12 Months, 12 Solutions – Countdown to the EU Falsified Medicines Directive

May Pharma-Security Feature: Thermochromatic Inks

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in Europe up to one percent of medicines in the market are counterfeit (WHO Report 2011). All dosage forms are affected. This does not only pose a risk to patient safety but may also jeopardize the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s reputation. Therefore, it is of vital importance to detect counterfeit products and withdraw them from circulation. Label-integrated thermochromatic inks enable exactly this: efficient authentication of medicines.

Thermochromatic inks are semi-covert counterfeit protection features, which means that they are not discernible at first glance. Whereas healthcare staff or patients are typically unable to detect the security feature informed persons can easily and unequivocally identify it without requiring additional aids. The reason is that only the respective pharmaceutical manufacturer and the select group of individuals intended to verify the feature know the exact details of the markings.

A thermochromatic ink consists of one or several special functional layers printed on top of each other that reversibly change their color when temperatures change. When the temperature increases, the printed layer becomes brighter or even transparent; when the temperature drops, the layer gradually turns darker or even black. These color shifts can be achieved by mechanically generated heat like simply rubbing the surface with a finger or, for example, by using a cold spray on the defined area to reduce the temperature. The security feature is particularly effective when a printed text is concealed underneath a thermochromatic layer and only becomes visible when a respective temperature change occurs.

In combination with color-shifting inks, thermochromatic inks offer a particularly high level of counterfeit protection. The technology is constantly developed further and now also available in the form of BPA (bisphenol-A)-free inks. Thermochromatic inks can be individually adjusted in terms of their temperature range and color spectrum, inconspicuously integrated into the label design and normally do not require special approvals – thus being a particularly clever, fast and cost-efficient solution for authenticating medicines.

In our blog series “12 Months, 12 Solutions: The Countdown to the EU Falsified Medicines Directive” over the next twelve months, we will present twelve selected security features that can be used to make medicinal packaging counterfeit-proof.

For more information on Schreiner MediPharm and our innovative Solutions for the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industry, please visit: www.schreiner-medipharm.com

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