Today, large Pharmaceutical and other Healthcare companies are arguably in the midst of the toughest challenges that they have ever faced. These challenges include:
- Blockbuster drug patents are expiring at an alarming rate and product development pipelines are not ready to fill the ensuing gap.
- Governments and other powerful purchasing groups are demanding ever lower prices for healthcare products.
- Regulators and the public are increasing sceptical about the role of healthcare companies in looking after the public’s welfare.
- Regulatory authorities are becoming more and more stringent in their definition and enforcement of regulations.
- Competition from generic companies is becoming fierce.
- Pharmaceutical Companies in particular are saddled with a very high infrastructure cost born out of the time when costs did not matter so much.
So what are Healthcare companies doing to respond to these formidable challenges?
Many seem to be focussing their activities on maximising the value they get from their current product base and this manifests itself in a drive to create and launch as many product variants, in as many markets, through as many channels as possible. For many companies this represents a significant change of strategy.
Whilst they strive to maximise sales volume, they are also working hard to maintain margins, particularly in the wealthier markets. Developing trust with key stakeholder groups appears to be a key part of this strategy and this drives them to a greater focus on meeting regulatory requirements and being seen publicly to do the right thing. They need to be increasingly vigilant in this area as the rise of the global information superhighway means that stakeholders anywhere in the world get to know bad news immediately.
At the same time that the large Pharmaceutical Companies struggle to maintain their place in the new order, many opportunities are generated for smaller players, particularly in the areas of biotechnology and vaccines. Here the focus is on getting relatively short development cycle products to as many markets as fast as possible, in a manner that does not compromise patient safety.
So what does this have to do with packaging labelling and artwork capabilities?
At the heart of much of the activity described above is the ability to develop, launch and maintain new products and variants in many different markets as rapidly as possible, whilst at the same time ensuring that all regulatory requirements are demonstrably met. I would suggest that this can only be achieved if a company puts in place an effective packaging labelling and artwork management ability.
However, for many Healthcare companies, is the reality that their current packaging labelling and artwork development capability falls short of what is required to meet these new business challenges? This is surely obvious when one considers that errors in packaging and labelling are the single largest source of product recalls today. Furthermore, this poor performance is understandably attracting the increased attention of regulators around the world.
This is the first in a series of blogs on the topic of developing and sustaining excellent packaging labelling and artwork management capabilities in the healthcare industry by Stephen McIndoe and Andrew Love. The series is based on extracts from Be4ward’s upcoming book on the subject. For more information contact [email protected] or visit us at www.Be4ward.com.