Toward Inclusive Pharmaceutical Packaging : An Innovation and Design Process Perspective

Abstract: Pharmaceutical packaging has an increasing importance in aging societies, wherepeople depend on medicines for their own care and well-being. Previous research shows that pharmaceutical packaging is a source of uncertainties, confusion, and daily struggles. The challenges experienced by users are extensive; the pharmaceutical industry needs to respond with packaging innovation. To address these complex challenges, more research is necessary on packaging that fulfills user needs and capabilities. This research purpose is to investigate innovation and design processes for pharmaceutical packaging, as well as to stimulate the uptake of inclusive design toward pharmaceutical packaging that meets society’s needs.The research is interdisciplinary with a qualitative, explorative approach basedon three studies and five appended papers. The first study explored state-of-artpharmaceutical packaging use by older patients. Physical constraints regardingpackaging design features and the need to support medication management were identified. Subsequent studies were based on empirical investigations. The second study investigated packaging innovation drivers based on a customer-supplier relationship case study of a brand-owner drug manufacturer, and a packaging supplier. The third study expanded those findings, through an interview study with stakeholders (top management, mid-management, and specialists) with experience in pharmaceutical packaging innovation and design processes.As argued and shown in the empirical investigations, pharmaceutical packaginginnovation is mainly driven by technology and legislation which reinforce standard and incremental packaging design. Furthermore, there are multiple stakeholders’ needs to be balanced. Findings in this research suggest that if packaging design is to be user-centered and inclusive, stakeholders should be actively involved to broaden the spectrum of driving forces that lead packaging innovation and open up new business opportunities. The empirical studies also revealed different levels and modes of user involvement in pharmaceutical packaging design.Overall, the research expands the rather technological focus of packaging towardthe exploration of industry processes, opening the way for further studies oninclusive design and social aspects of pharmaceutical packaging innovation anddesign, being the collaboration and involvement of users in these processes also of great interest. Packaging practitioners can benefit from the results obtained tobenchmark their own processes. Policy makers and health care providers can reflect about the dilemmas of innovating pharmaceutical packaging that is inclusive and user-centered, and can use the empirical evidence from this research to strengthen and pave the way for new regulations and guidelines. Future agendas may be leveraged from research to other spheres of society, increasing dialog about inclusively designed pharmaceutical packaging and better patient care.