About the Health / Pharmacy sector

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European health industry (source Efpia : Européan Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations)

  • Turnover: €220 billion in production (2014)
  • around 1,900 companies (2014)
  • 707,000 employees (2014)
  • €316.5 billion (trade balance: +€78 billion) (2014)

French health industry (Source Leem : Les entreprises du médicament)

  • Turnover: €20 billion excl. VAT in production expressed in works cost, €52.930 billion for the entire sector (manufacturing, R&D, retail) (2014)
  • 246 manufacturing laboratories (2014)
  • 98,810 jobs for the entire sector (2014)
  • Export: €25 billion for the sector


The global medication market is estimated (Source: The pharmaceutical industry in figures, Key Data 2015, Efpia) at USD865.518 billion excluding VAT (works cost) in 2014. The North American market (USA, Canada) is the largest, with 44.5% of the global market, ahead of Europe (25.3%), Japan (8.9%), Africa, Asia and Australia (16.6%). In 2014, and for the first time, China occupied second place in the world, overtaking Japan.

The global market could reach USD1,300 billion (Source: The 2015 CMR pharmaceutical R&D factbook, Thomson Reuters) in 2018. Growth in developed countries is driven by generic drugs, of which the global market was valued (Source: 2015 Global life sciences outlook. Adapting in an era of transformation, Deloitte) in 2013 at USD168 billion and should reach USD283 billion in 2018, and by biotechnologies. Orphan drugs are a considerable source of innovation, with all pharmacopoeia driving growth in emerging markets.

In Europe, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most high-performing high-tech sectors and constitutes a key asset of the economy. However, parallel trade was estimated at €5.4 billion in 2012, with no adequate solutions provided by companies to organise distribution. This is a major concern for laboratories. France is the second European market, behind Germany.

In France, 246 laboratories manufacture drugs and supply 7 wholesalers with 61.3% of their production, 21,915 dispensaries with 14.9% of their production, and 2,694 public and private hospitals with 23.8% of their production.

Globally, production of the pharmaceutical industry declined (Source: Economic studies. Analyses: the manufacturing industry in 2014, Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry.) by 3.8% in 2014 (compared to growth of 0.6% in 2013 and 4.3% in 2012), but recorded a spectacular recovery with growth of 4.1% in the fourth quarter, after the sharp decline recorded since mid-2013. The French pharmaceutical industry is faced with the   expiry of several patents.

Turnover from drugs – excluding products with temporary authorisation and post-temporary authorisation – reached nearly €53 billion in 2014. Turnover excluding VAT (works cost) from OTC drugs amounted to €20 billion (Source: Les entreprises du médicament en France, econmic statement 2015, LEEM.), i.e. a 2.0% decrease compared to 2013 and a third year of decline in a row.

Turnover from refundable drugs decreased by 1.9% in value and 0.7% in volume, while the hospital market increased by 3.7%.  Since the installation in 2004 of yearly price reduction plans, the AAGR of refundable drugs was 6.1% over the 2000-2005 period, compared to 1.5% between 2006-2011, and -2.5% in the 2012-2014 period.

Exports of drugs, including serums and vaccines, suffered a decline of 5% to €25 billion (6.6% of French exports). The decrease of French drug prices, used as a reference price in many countries, and the development of manufacturing in emerging countries contributed to this decline. The trade balance remains positive at €6 billion, but with a  31% drop compared to 2013.

France has long been presented as the leading consumer of medication, but with the growing weight of internationalised medications, where prescription conditions are similar, several studies put this into perspective. The country is the global leader in vaccines and the leading European player in veterinary medication.


  • Operation Pangea, carried out by Interpol, led to the seizure of 20.7 million fake and illegal medications for an estimated value of USD81 million. 550 adverts for illegal pharmaceutical products were withdrawn from the Web and over 2,410 Web sites were taken off-line. But drug counterfeit is a scourge which does not only use the Internet as a distribution channel. This is why European regulation CE 2016/161, amending directive 2001/83/CE, sets out measures to prevent the introduction of falsified medicines in the supply chain.
  • When European regulation 2016/161 comes into force on 9th February 2019, individual packaging for drugs must come with a unique medicine identifier (UMI) enabling distributors, wholesalers, pharmacists and patients to check the authentication of a product via a secure UMI database.  The UMI is a unique alpha-numerical code on a Datamatrix 2D bar code.
  • Anti-tampering devices, which guarantee the packaging has not been opened, must be adjusted to the materials, process and design of the packaging, without a new marketing authorisation demand being necessary. The systems are varied – tear-away locking tabs, clip or adhesive system, pre-cut system, etc. – and sometimes made to measure for unique solutions.
  • Organic drugs made from living cells are very sensitive to temperature variations and have a limited shelf life. They need to be conserved throughout the life cycle with isotherm packagingIt has even been announced that by 2020, 8 out of the 10 most sold drugs in the world will need to be kept at between +2 and +8°C.
  • The fight against drug waste is a priority objective for health authorities. The British National Health Service (NHS) is looking into a label where the price of the drug shall appear, if over £20, along with the wording "Funded by the UK taxpayer". In France, the experiment to sell antibiotics by the unit concluded that current packaging is inappropriate. Patients not following their course of treatment is another cause of waste.  In France, the Leem is launching a programme to fight medicine-related illness (Medicine-related illness refers to the undesirable effects caused by medicines.). The packaging contains solutions such as calendar blisters for drugs designed to fight Alzheimers. Points to monitor: tablets made by 3D printing, combining dosed active principles and release speeds defined for personalised treatments.
  • Gradually, the individual is playing an active role in their own health. From simple components subjected to regulations and compatibility tests, connected pharmaceutical packaging as a means to help and control observance is in the process of changing the paradigm of medication, previously focused on the molecule, to now focus on the patient. Health is on-line thanks to packaging!
  • Safety and ease of use are still major topics. Whether for eye drops, insulin pens, asthma inhalers or outpatient oral chemotherapy, the objective of packaging is to play down the act of using the medicine and encourage observance.
  • Lastly, in drugstores, packaging colours are being used to segment the offer, POS are turning shelves into real displays and vending machines can contain up to 700 references with all types of packaging.


ALC Equipements Industriels / DARRØN / ELIZABETH EUROPE / ERGOFRANCE / FETTE COMPACTING ET UHLMANN FRANCE / Groninger & Co. GmbH / IMA / KEYSER & MACKAY / Marchesini Group Spa / MEDELPHARM / MG2 / MPA TECHNICAL DEVICES / O.M.A.R. S.r.l. Pharmaceutical Blister Solution / OMAG / PACK & PROPER CO., LTD. / PACKFEEDER / PGF PARTNER / PHARM-ALLIANCE / ROMACO FRANCE / SARONG / Sogeva / STRIPFOIL Deblistering Technology / UNISTA / WATSON MARLOW. List up to 12/06/2018

Source: Annette Freidinger-Legay, international packaging expert and consultant for the ALL4PACK Paris trade show.

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