As company celebrates 100 years, it is applying new packaging technologies to ensure the safety of pharmaceuticals.

By: David Savastano, Editor; Source: Printed Electronics Now

Maintaining the integrity of pharmaceuticals – ensuring the medicines are not counterfeit, have not been in unsafe conditions such as excessive cold or heat, or even being used properly by the patients – is critical at any time.

For example, right now, healthcare testing in the time of COVID-19 is of critical importance. 

Jones Healthcare Group is making sure that pharmaceutical packaging is protecting the entire supply chain through to the end-users. For more than a century, Jones has seen the evolution of pharma packaging today, with printed electronics now being used by some brand owners. In the case of COVID-19, Jones is working closely with numerous test kit producers to bring much-needed test kits to market.

As the company celebrates its 100th year, its focus remains on providing healthcare packaging solutions. To that end, the company changed its name from Jones Packaging Inc. to Jones Healthcare Group earlier this year and is investing $20 million in the company.

“Over a century ago, Jones provided apothecary packaging to help pharmacists safely dispense medication to patients,” said Ron Harris, president and CEO at Jones. “One thing has never wavered since our beginning – we have always been focused on wellness. It’s in our DNA.”

The History of Jones Healthcare Group

A fourth-generation family-owned company, Jones traces its roots back to 1882 when Henry J. Jones and Frank Lawson created Lawson & Jones Inc. The company, located in London, Canada, developed apothecary packaging for pharmacists to dispense medication safely to patients.

In 1920, Jones formed Jones Box and Label to meet the expanding need for pharmaceutical packaging as medications became available over-the-counter. This included adding design and manufacture of folding cartons and pressure-sensitive labels for the growing self-care market while still continuing to support pharmacists with prescription dispensing packaging.

In 1996, fourth-generation Jones family members Chris Jones Harris and Ron Harris purchased the company from the balance of family shareholders and changed the company’s name to Jones Packaging Inc.

Over the first part of the century, Jones made acquisitions to grow and diversify the business, including Venalink Ltd. based in the UK and Spain, a leader in medication blister packaging for pharmacies, and OSG Toronto (Ivers-Lee), a Canadian contract packaging services specialist.

Healthcare remains the company’s core business. As wellness markets and regulations around the world have evolved, Jones has been at the forefront of understanding trends, evaluating consumer and patient needs and responding with progressive packaging platforms.

“We continue to bring unique expertise across healthcare sectors, and that’s why we have built long-standing relationships with some of the largest global pharmaceutical companies and pharmacy groups across the globe,” said Chris Jones Harris, principal, corporate development.

“Early on, my great-grandfather brought the first pre-gummed labels to Canada to increase efficiency in apothecaries, and the business has continued introducing healthcare market firsts over our history – from the first child-safe prescription vials for the Canadian pharmacy market to the first multi-medication blister package to help patients take the right medications at the right time, and more,” she added.

Intelligent Packaging

As the digital packaging evolution began to take shape, Jones joined Canada’s National Research Council Printable Electronics Program and Consortium to develop printing technologies for intelligent, monitored medication adherence packaging.

Jones Harris noted that the company is seeing a surge in interest in more high-tech healthcare packaging, including printed electronics, with the challenges of COVID-19.

“Recently, we have been asked about COVID-19 testing kits with intelligent and connected capabilities,” Jones Harris said. “The market is experiencing a rise in counterfeit testing kits, while authentic at-home kits can be difficult for consumers to understand and use.

“This has led us to important work with multiple partners to create intelligent kit options that not only allow consumers to quickly confirm a kit is authentic and manufactured under safe conditions, but can also provide consumers with easy access to tutorial videos to demonstrate proper use – all of this with the tap of a smartphone to the packaging. At this time, we have provisional designs with partners undergoing regulatory approval,” she added.

Jones is also in the process of acquiring design protection patents in North America for another of its innovations – intelligent, monitored medication adherence cards to ensure compliance with complex polypharmaceutical regimes. Recently, Jones Healthcare has been participating in patient trials with this technology, including the first-ever trial program with this type of system in the UK, as well as a multi-phase user trial in Barcelona, Spain.

“This system digitally tracks whether patients have removed prescribed doses of medication at the right times – and can also send reminders to patients, healthcare providers and caregivers when medications have not been taken,” Nic Hunt, chief strategy officer at Jones, said. “This provides important data to help patients keep track of schedules and also allows caregivers and healthcare providers to support patients.”

There is a growing consumer familiarity with NFC tap interaction, which the company is well placed to develop and produce.

“We were the first to successfully integrate and verify dual-sensing NFC tags for folding cartons on high-speed production lines,” he added. “Cartons with embedded NFC technology have several applications for wellness markets. With one tap of a smartphone on packaging, consumers can access more information about products to make informed decisions – whether it’s further medication indications, health information, or personal care product tutorials. Brands can also use this technology for anti-counterfeiting purposes to support consumer safety or to monitor the supply chain and product lifecycles. The list of applications is near limitless.”

Jones’ dedicated Innovation Solutions Group has its eye on smart packaging utilizing RFID and NFC.

“The team’s current focus is on intelligent, connected packaging – we are evaluating different electronic sensors that could connect with embedded NFC and RFID technologies in packaging,” Hunt said. “These sensors could detect humidity or temperature to ensure product integrity, for example.

“Overall, because of our organizational purpose to help people live longer, healthier lives, we have remained rooted in developing packaging that improves consumer outcomes. Our focus and deliberate ongoing investment in innovation, healthcare expertise and close relationships with customers and partners have driven our continued success,” Ron Harris concluded.

By: David Savastano, Editor; Source: Printed Electronics Now