Expand Your Wallet

Using a wallet-style blister package can be a costly undertaking. In most cases, wallets are pretty complex in terms of design and materials, and assembly involves either a lot of labor or a lot of machinery. For these reasons, drug companies may shy away from the wallet.

Kevin Carter, however, isn’t giving up. Leading the marketing efforts for McKesson’s RxPak repackaging operations (Memphis), Carter believes that wallets can make a difference when it comes to patient compliance. “Patients are more likely to refill their prescriptions,” he says, pointing to the Ohio State University study that showed such an effect with lisinopril.

“McKesson is really pushing compliance,” he adds. Carter senses a similar interest from many of McKesson’s pharmacy and nursing unit clients. “Every inquiry we’ve fielded recently for both branded and generic drugs has been someone looking for compliance packaging—and not just a blister.”

Convinced, he’s looking for a way to make the wallet as cost-effective as possible. Developing one wallet that can be used for multiple products may be the answer. Carter says that RxPak is working on one blister cavity design for the Dosepak compliance package from MeadWestvaco that can be used for all products. Part of that effort involves “mitigating the effects of change when switching from tablet to capsule,” he says. If RxPak is successful, the repackager will be able to use one blister design for many of its 120-plus SKUs. One contender is a nested 30-count with two 15 counts facing each other.

A multiple-product design may mean more than just cost savings in tooling and machinery. It may also reduce the amount of testing necessary to demonstrate child resistance, Carter says, since the same child-resistant package design could be used for many products.

Carter is also working on automating walleting operations. Using a cartoning system from Uhlmann Packaging Systems (Towaco, NJ), a firm Carter used to work for, RxPak is automatically inserting 100 wallets per minute into the Dosepak. “We see high speeds attainable with Dosepak, up to 200+ per minute,” he says.

RxPak is also looking at MeadWestvaco’s Starterpak, which can be used for drug samples. “We are looking at four to five different cavity sizes for the package,” says Carter. “That way, we can change the cavity size without affecting child-resistance functionality.”

A stock wallet package may turn heads at the pharmacy level. Given the billboard space that many wallet-style packages offer, such a solution gives pharmacists the labeling space they need, and the 30-count design could work for many once-a-day drugs. And it takes pharmacists out of the repackaging business, freeing their time for counseling and reducing dispensing mistakes.

Of course, your firm probably doesn’t package the volumes that McKesson does. But consider what one versatile wallet design could mean for your family of products. It could simplify your tooling, machinery, material, and testing needs. Is that enough to get more prescription drugs out of the amber vial?

Daphne Allen, Editor


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