Packaging Demand to hit $11bn by 2010

19 December 2006 (Last Updated December 19th, 2006 18:30)

The Freedonia Group examines how the demand for pharmaceutical packaging products is set to grow in the US.

Demand for pharmaceutical packaging products in the US (including Puerto Rico) will increase 7% annually to over $11bn in 2010. The strongest influences on growth will evolve from new regulations and standards that address such issues as patient drug compliance, drug dispensing errors, drug counterfeiting and drug diversion.

An increased focus on these issues will expand growth opportunities for high value-added containers, closures and accessories, especially blister packs, tamper-evident closures and RFID labels.

INCREASED QUALITY

Moreover, the widening availability of medicines based on biotechnology and other advanced disciplines, coupled with the development of innovative drug delivery systems and dosage formulations, will require the pharmaceutical industry to upgrade packaging quality and performance properties. This trend will particularly benefit the demand for functional containers, such as prefillable inhalers and prefillable syringes, which provide for more precise drug administration and enhanced infection prevention.

Demand for primary pharmaceutical containers will increase 8% annually through 2010 to $7.5bn, or nearly 34 billion units. Prefillable inhalers and prefillable syringes will generate the fastest growth opportunities among all pharmaceutical packaging products based on safety and performance advantages in drug delivery. Plastic bottles will hold the largest share of unit demand based on low cost, versatility, availability, and ongoing quality and design improvements.

Expanding applications in both solid and liquid oral medications will create above-average growth opportunities for these containers. Pharmaceutical blister packaging will post strong demand gains and maintain the largest share of revenues based on its adaptability to unit dose, clinical trial, sample, compliance, institutional and over-the-counter (OTC) container formats.

EQUIPMENT IMPROVEMENTS

Advances in the changeover features of machinery will also benefit growth prospects for blister packaging by making it more cost efficient in small-volume drug applications. Equipment upgrades, coupled with trends favouring unit-dose packaging, will also boost demand for pouches and strip packs.

By contrast, the market for medication tubes will expand at a below-average pace due to competition from pouches and plastic dispensing bottles. Performance shortcomings versus alternative containers will restrain demand for IV containers, vials and ampoules, glass bottles and jars and aerosol cans.

"The market for child-resistant, senior-friendly and dispensing closures will increase favourably."

The US market for secondary pharmaceutical containers will expand 5.2% annually to $1.3bn in 2010, representing 14.3 billion units. Prescription-dispensing vials will post the strongest gains in value demand based on patient preferences for higher value-added compliance configurations.

Trends encouraging high-visibility pharmaceutical packaging, especially in OTC drug applications, will benefit demand for folding paperboard boxes and display convertible shipping cartons. However, these containers will provide below average growth opportunities as drug makers become more selective in the use of expensive, high material content packaging systems.

PACKAGING ACCESSORIES

Demand for pharmaceutical packaging accessories will reach $2.3bn in 2010, up 5% annually from 2005. RFID barcoded labels and accessories will post the fastest gains, benefiting from stricter government and industry standards aimed at preventing drug counterfeiting and drug diversion.

The market for child-resistant, senior-friendly and dispensing closures will increase favourably as pharmaceutical manufacturers adapt medication to high value-added containers and delivery systems. Stepped-up efforts by medical groups to improve patient drug compliance will boost the market for high visibility labels and package inserts.

Based on 2005 revenues, the eight largest participants in the US pharmaceutical packaging industry were Cardinal Health, Alcan Packaging, MeadWestvaco, Alcoa Flexible Packaging, Amcor, Owens-Illinois, Sharp (Superior Group) and West Pharmaceutical Services. These companies supplied over 30% of total demand for pharmaceutical packaging in 2005 and over 40% of the merchant market. Another 15% of demand was absorbed by captive production systems operated by drug manufacturers.

The remainder of the market is highly fragmented, with over $3bn in revenues divided among 400 producers and contract packaging firms.