Pharmaceutical packaging for older patients - A design and innovation perspective

Giana Carli Lorenzini

Research output: ThesisLicentiate Thesis

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Pharmaceutical packaging is linked to important demographic changes. Aging of
populations is one of the demographic changes which has called for more attention, especially in well-developed countries. The increase in life expectancy represents a positive consequence of years of research, development of medications, and improvement in life habits. In spite of that, the growth in the number of people living beyond 65 has put more pressure on healthcare systems, as well as increasing the expectations on many industries to innovate and support an extended life. Previous research shows that, although medication products make it possible for seniors to have a prolonged lifespan, medication packages are a source of uncertainties, confusion, and daily struggles. Consequently, the overall purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the field of pharmaceutical packaging design and innovation in order to improve the everyday life of older patients. The research is applied, interdisciplinary, and has an explorative approach, following a qualitative research strategy. Primarily, three major revisions of existing literature were performed to provide greater awareness of pharmaceutical packaging when combined with perspectives on design and innovation. The first revision presented the use of medication packages by older patients, as reported in the literature. By that, not only the characteristics of older patients became evident, but also the choice(s) of methodologies in the research field, the design features of packaging assessed, and the dilemmas which surround the use of medication packaging. A second revision shed light on the design research practices. As found, inclusive design is one approach to design which provides tools and guidelines to make products and packages usable by as many people as possible. An inclusive design approach to pharmaceutical packaging is greatly needed in research. In
identifying that need, four major propositions to support empirical studies were
elaborated. A third revision focused on conceptualization of innovation
opportunities guided through a design innovation process. By that, it was possible to conceptually revise a design innovation process within the complex context of pharmaceutical packaging development. In general, this conceptual revision reinforced the idea that packaging is one of the choices companies have to innovate in the delivery and use of medication by patients. Moreover, design permits the exploration of opportunities where business and social innovation opportunities meet. As a logical step after the revisions, a final empirical study was performed. This empirical study was designed as a case study, conducted on a pharmaceutical packaging supplier. The initial results present packaging supplier who works closely connected with the pharmaceutical producer. A standard portfolio of packages is preferred; some limited special projects were elaborated with external partners. The research contributes to the field of pharmaceutical packaging, both in theory and practice. In theory, the research provides a comprehensive view of the research landscape in pharmaceutical packaging, which can provide guidance for packaging and design scholars. The research expands the rather technological aspects of packaging, moving toward the social aspects of innovating with the support of design. Furthermore, the research presents propositions on empirical studies to be continued. The exploration of a conceptual design innovation process opens the way for other similar studies, and for the further exploration of inclusive design and social aspects of pharmaceutical packaging design. In practice, the research contributes with empirical data about the pharmaceutical packaging design
carried out in a single-case study. Packaging practitioners can benefit from the
results obtained to benchmark their own processes. Policy and decision makers can benefit from the results of this research to reflect about the dilemmas of innovating pharmaceutical packaging.
Original languageEnglish
  • Hellström, Daniel, Supervisor
  • Olsson, Annika, Assistant supervisor
Place of PublicationLund
ISBN (Print)978-91-7623-876-9
ISBN (electronic) 978-91-7623-877-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Engineering and Technology


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