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Pharmaceutical packaging is getting smarter

12 April, 2018

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Date of Publication: 12 April, 2018
Our interview with Riccardo Carbucicchio, CEO of NTC - an Italian pharmaceutical company dealing with research, development and production of drugs and medical devices. NTC has always kept a strong focus on innovation and ethical issues, and has been recently honoured as the National Winner for Italy in the Customer and Market Engagement category at the European Business Award.

One of the latest projects coming out of NTC is an innovative “smart  package” used to provide patients with useful information about their therapy. Riccardo, can you tell us how the project came to be?

We’ve always been following a “patient first” approach, structuring our research around the needs of  people receiving health care. We worked alongside physicians to design intelligent packaging that is practical, simple and yet very advanced, since it provides information and assistance during therapy.
In our market, it’s not easy to be recognizable, so our packaging provides a striking added value to our clients’ branding and positioning, allowing their products to stand out and become the top choice for prescribers, pharmacists and, finally, patients.


One of your first smart packaging was used for Blefastop - an ocular and periocular therapeutic solution used when treating blepharitis. The packaging includes a QR code: what information does it link to?

By scanning the QR with their mobile devices, patients can reach an infographic video that explains their pathology and gives practical advice on how to use the product correctly. That’s key information and it’s usually hidden somewhere on the leaflet. Our intuitive video makes it easy to find and understand everything they need.


NTC Smart Packaging is so much more than just QR codes. Could you tell us something about further projects?

For instance, we’re working on anti-forgery wrappings and on a packaging that can monitor the item temperature for optimal storage. Different products - and different patients - have different needs. Consider Blefastop: it is mostly used in the bathroom, in front of a mirror, while the packaging is placed on the sink (following a suggestion from ophthalmologists themselves: “Keep your therapy close to your toothbrush”). If the sink is wet though, the standard package will deteriorate rapidly over time. That’s why we’re designing a water resistant plastic-coated cardboard.
It may sound trivial, but small innovations, such as our self-folding leaflet, not on the market yet, dramatically improve the life of patients.


And what is self-folding leaflet, exactly?

Most leaflets are difficult to fold correctly after the first read, therefore patients tend to just crumple them up and force them back inside the box.
Our solution is a leaflet that folds by itself. We’re taking inspiration from origami and from the work of Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura. His “Miura folds” are used even by NASA and we’re now studying the feasibility of this method within the packaging industry standards.
We plan on bringing all these innovations to the market in 2018, which is going to be a key year for us. After all, NTC stands for Novelty, Technology, Care. Our mission is in our name.

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