Messe Düsseldorf North America - Trade Show Daily

Put some Windex®

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Thu, Oct 27, 2011 @ 13:23 PM

A Part II Primer to The Big Fat Greek Economic Meltdown
Original Post Dated May 2010

When in the 2002 heater hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding the father of the bride Gus Portokalos (adroitly played by Michael Constantine) is confronted with any kind of skin ailment, he pans, "Put some Windex."  Somehow that humorous expression strikes me as somberly befitting for this week’s economic developments in Europe where its leaders agreed on a so-called “Windex-Fix” that would impose steep losses on investors holding troubled Greek bonds while simultaneously boosting the effectiveness of the region’s bailout fund.    describe the image
             Michael Constantine / My Big Fat Greek Wedding




This is important stuff to know for American companies involved in exporting, to know the financial situation of international markets, and what market realities your business partners (and competitors!) overseas are facing.  Knowing this will allow you to engage more effectively when you participate at one of our trade shows in Düsseldorf.

A Grand Plan

Under the agreement reached in Brussels in the wee hours of the morning, Greek bondholders agreed to voluntarily write down the value of Greek bonds by 50%, thereby reducing the nation's debt to 120% of GDP from 150%.  The private sector [read: mostly European banks] agreed to the write downs on the condition of a € 30 billion contribution from the public sector [read: European tax payers].

At the same time, the bailout fund (known as the new European Financial Stability Facility) would help cash-strapped countries like Spain and Italy borrow at least € 1 trillion by providing a kind of insurance that would make their bonds more attractive to investors – and thus hopefully preventing them from eventually experiencing a similar fate as Greece.

So why is this important?

New York Times columnist Bill Marsh recently prepared a remarkably interesting article and flow chart putting the entire complicated situation into a clearer and simplified perspective:

At one time, investors viewed lending to the Euro Zone as risk free.  But Greece was borrowing more money to finance itself than it could afford to repay. Similarly, but to a somewhat lesser extent, other countries in Europe (Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and even Italy) were finding themselves sliding down a similar path.  With investors sensing that bond yields would not be met, it looked increasingly possible that the contagion could spread elsewhere – resulting in more difficulty for these countries to borrow money to pay their bills, and risking the investors (i.e. European banks) bottom line: a resulting recipe for huge financial losses, European credit markets to lock up, and certain European financial meltdown to follow.  The shockwave would be felt worldwide – yes, here in the United States.

Is this “putting Windex” treatment going to work? 

Marsh hypothesized that Greek debt will continue to grow and that eventually an orderly, negotiated default will occur, which will ideally be contained thanks to the above mentioned agreement reached in Brussels – and which would shore up the credit of the other countries Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy and thereby save the Euro currency and financial collapse of the Euro Zone.

At the moment, it appears an imminent crisis has been averted.  But of course, time will tell.

Topics: international business, Exports, International Trade, International Trade Shows, Greece, Economic Crisis, Euro

A Summer of Discontent? Not so Fast...

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Aug 12, 2011 @ 10:45 AM

Watching this summer’s nonstop political childish behavior wrangling and economic rollercoaster uncertainty unfold on both sides of the Atlantic would make a reasonable person think that the whole world’s unraveling at the seams.  With 24 hour cable-TV talking heads feeding us their nonstop personal opinions and endless electronic push notifications cranking out of our smart-phones feeding us every trivial byte of “news”, you’d think that modern civilization is on the verge of collapse.    covereyes  
I Just Can't Take it Anymore!  

Hardly.  Put it all aside, calm yourself, and take three deep breaths.  Better now?

Over the past months something remarkable has been occurring beneath the radar of the much-hyped nonsense that passes for news and politics nowadays.

 
2011 has stacked up as a remarkably positive year for U.S. companies seeking export markets and participating at Messe Duesseldorf’s trade shows.

Not withstanding the very positive results for US companies that have already participated at this year’s leading interpack and GIFA-METEC-THERMPROCESS-NEWCAST events in Germany, and Hospitalar in Brazil, record-breaking participation at the upcoming MEDICA and COMPAMED trade fairs in Düsseldorf this November will be realized.

MEDICA and COMPAMED will feature nearly 450 U.S.-based exhibitors occupying nearly 65,000 square feet of net exhibit space, more space back to back and side to side than would fill an entire US-football field!  Add in the participating companies from Canada and from Mexico at MEDICA and COMPAMED, and the show is the largest contingent of North-American based exhibitors at a medical industry event fair anywhere outside of the western hemisphere!

And just around the corner next spring:  the once-every-four-year drupa 2012 print-media trade will return to Düsseldorf for a whopping two-week stint, and where American companies will occupy about 2 football fields of space.

True, we’ve been saddled here with a sluggish economy and not enough jobs, but exports have proven to be an important way to grow business, put people to work, and stay competitive with growing international competition!  So instead of wringing our hands about cable’s predicted societal implosion, just turn off the television and reset your browser’s homepage to www.mdna.com in order to focus on the the positive, exciting things that U.S. innovators and exporters are proudly doing!


Topics: MEDICA, Exports, International Trade, International Trade Shows, Compamed, interpack, drupa

Duesseldorf Packing It In on the World Stage

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, May 20, 2011 @ 14:57 PM

The past week in Duesseldorf, Germany was – to put it lightly – momentous.

The city put itself front and center on the international stage in more ways that one, and admirably once again demonstrated that it is comfortable player among the first-tier of world-class cities.
eurovision1 In the span of a week, Duesseldorf hosted not only the world’s largest and leading international packaging trade show, interpack, it also simultaneously hosted the renowned Eurovision Song Contest at the Esprit Arena, adjacent to the Duesseldorf fairgrounds.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Eurovision Song Contest, this event is perhaps one of the most watched annual TV spectacles in Europe.  Each European country submits a single band or singer performing a single song in a viewer / voter elimination contest, and then on the final night after the field has been narrowed to just 25 countries – the whole of Europe votes for their favorite by text-message voting.

The air was electrified on Saturday evening, May 14.  The city of Duesseldorf turned into one giant block party as thousands converged to the old city and the banks of the Rhine River to watch live coverage on outdoor large screens of the events inside the Arena.  Restaurants, bars and nightclubs were packed to overflowing and the narrow streets outside were full as everyone watched and waited to find out this year’s winner, Azerbaijan (Europe!?) for its contestants’ (Ell/Nikk) entry Running Scared.

At right:  Nikki Jamal and Eldar Kasimov of Ell/Nikki representing Azerbaijan celebrate on Saturday, May 14, 2011 with the Eurovision trophy and their national flag after winning the Grand Final of the 56th Eurovision Song Contest.  © AFP/GETTY IMAGES

article 0 0C132BD100000578 644 468x717

On the dual track, interpack returned to the Duesseldorf fairgrounds also to rave reviews and a palpable perception that the industry is once again on the uptick.  Featuring over 2,700 exhibitors from 60 countries, the show attracted a total of 166,000 trade visitors – 60 percent from outside of Germany.  Particularly striking was the further significant increase in the proportion of decision-makers attending the show over the previous staging in 2008.  Almost three quarters of trade visitors reported they came from management with decision making authority – a remarkable figure!

At the same time SAVE FOOD International Congress was held, highlighting the ongoing conflict between nutrition, packaging and sustainability.  In collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), this meeting attracted some 300 participants and dignitaries who discussed the magnitude and causes of global food waste and explored the contribution that improved packaging could make in the fight against food waste.

And Duesseldorf handled all these important international events with flair.  For a week under sunny skies the city became the international stage for business and culture, a remarkable feat that many other aspiring cities undoubtedly envy and aspire to.

Congratulations Duesseldorf!

Topics: Messe Duesseldorf, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, International Trade Shows, City of Düsseldorf, packaging, interpack, visit Dusseldorf, Dusseldorf bars, Dusseldorf pubs, Dusseldorf nightlife, Duesseldorf nightlife, Dusseldorf nightclubs, Duesseldorf bars, Duesseldorf nightclubs, Dusseldorf entertainment, Duesseldorf entertainment, SAVE FOOD, Eurovision, Song Contest, Anuga Foodtec, PMMI, Pack Expo

Social Media and the Trade Show

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Apr 1, 2011 @ 14:49 PM

I’m going to make a bold statement.

Trade shows will never be replaced by “virtual” events.  Ever.

There.  I said it.

After all, attending a trade show enables visitors and exhibitors alike a unique experience to meet face to face.  It’s essentially a "sensual" experience – meaning that you get to see the products and services available from the exhibitors first hand.

  describe the image  
You can touch the equipment on display, see it in operation, ask questions, have aspects explained to you directly.  Hear how loud (or quiet) it runs, see if it produces any odors, or expends heat.  All important things to observe and think about when making a decision about incorporating equipment into your company’s production line.

Sure, you can have a virtual meeting with a supplier or client on Skype to see their face as they talk to you.  Or watch a video that has been sent over.  But nothing replaces that face to face, human interaction.

Nevertheless, what is now happening and evolving technology-wise is particularly exciting in the trade show industry.  For example, Messe Düsseldorf is embracing many forms of social media as a value-added tool for clients to connect, learn, interact, and keep informed of everything that is going on within the trade show and the industries we serve!

describe the image   Take for instance, the Messe App that can be downloaded for free onto your Apple iPhone, iTouch, or iPad. It features offline search features, Google Maps integration and interactive floor plans that enable the user to prepare for the trade show visit.  With this small app you can keep all current information about the fair in the palm of your hand, and of course take it with you to the show.  

describe the image

 



 

 

 

Twitter also is being embraced as an interactive means of not just following basic and interesting updates about the events, the industry, and everything else, but allows you to connect with others attending the show in a meaningful way!  (Follow Messe Düsseldorf North America’s tweets at http://twitter.com/mdnachicago, or Messe Duesseldorf in Germany @MD-GmbH in Germany, or one of our trade shows like #interpack2011, wire Düsseldorf @wiretradefair, Tube Düsseldorf @tubetradefair, MEDICA @medicatradefair, etc.)

In the future it is not inconceivable that how one visits the show can be tracked in such a way that if it is observed you are seeking specific products at one of our events that you could also get a "tweet" reminding you that there are other like products or other interesting companies in certain locations at the trade show that you haven’t visited yet.


facebook logo  

You can also become a fan of Messe Duesseldorf North America on Facebook and see others who are fans, interact, and initiate dialogues.
Share your experiences in Düsseldorf, industry news, or even commiserate with each other about the lofty hotel prices in Düsseldorf when a trade show is underway!

 
If you’re reading this blog you’re undoubtedly already tuned into all of these various social media tools – but why not share this with a friend or colleague?  Let them know about Messe Düsseldorf and the world-leading events that are held there.  Inform your staff who will either be working your booth at the show or simply attending.  Your experience and results will undoubtedly be enhanced!

Topics: Messe, Messe Duesseldorf, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, International Trade Shows, Messe App, Social Networking, Social Media, Twitter, Facebook

Help Japan

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 14:57 PM

 describe the image

 

 

Last week, on Friday March 11, 2011, a disaster of epic proportions visited the island nation of Japan.  While most of the western hemisphere was asleep in the middle of the night, it was mid-afternoon there when a massive 9.0 earthquake struck, followed almost immediately by an angry sea that sent a 6 meter tall tsunami crashing ashore, destroying everything and everyone in its path.  
Subsequently, power was knocked out to the seaside Fukushima nuclear power plant, resulting in radiation laced explosions, and a still unfolding probable meltdown of the reactors’ cores – the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine a generation ago.

Messe Duesseldorf is a global company, and urgently we sought and have maintained contact with our colleagues at Messe Duesseldorf Japan.  Thankfully, their Tokyo office made it thru the quake with just some minor damage, and more importantly we’ve received welcome reports that our colleagues there, and their families, reported no injuries.  Their concern has turned toward reaching out to Messe Duessseldorf’s Japanese clients, working to determine how they have fared.

Engage in Some Global Giving

On behalf of our trade show visitors and exhibitors, Messe Duesseldorf North America has made a significant charitable donation to the American Red Cross for its Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts.

We invite all who read this to consider also helping Japan in its time of crisis.  Several of the following organizations are accepting donations:

  • The Red Cross.  Visit www.redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate US$ 10 from your phone.
  • The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.  GlobalGiving.org has been launched to garner funds that will be given to a variety of relief organizations helping victims of the earthquake.
  • Facebook for the Cause.  The Red Cross has set up a Causes page to accept donations for their Japan humanitarian aid efforts. By logging in via Facebook, you can give money or give a minute of your time.  For each quick ad you watch, companies will donate money to the Red Cross's relief fund.
  • Donate via iTunes.  Apple's online music and movie store has made it simple to give money to the relief effort. Simply click how much you want to donate, and iTunes will use the account you already have on file for your purchases. The money goes to the Red Cross. 
  • UNICEF.  Visit www.unicefusa.org or text JAPAN to 864233 to donate US$ 10 to help the children of Japan.

Of course many more reputable charities exist and we invite you to help.

Our thoughts and reflections are with the Japanese people, and we want them to know that we stand beside them in their time or need.  We wish them well and hope our assistance will help make a difference in their successful recovery.

Topics: Announcements, international, Messe Duesseldorf, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, International Trade Shows, trade show organizer, Japan, Earthquake, Tsunami, Fukushima, Messe Dusseldorf Japan, American Red Cross, UNICEF, International Medical Corps, Salvation Army

É boa pra caramba!

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 @ 14:50 PM

The world renowned Carnival festivities of Brazil concluded last Tuesday at midnight, but in many ways the good times are continuing to roll in this massive country of over 193 million people.

Hospitalar, the 18th International Fair of Products, Equipment, Services and Technology for Hospitals, Laboratories, Pharmacies, Health Clinics and Medical Offices will return to the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo (May 24-27, 2011), and already the indicators are present that this will medical industry trade show will break its own records!
      530 96Brazil Carnival.sff.standalone.prod affiliate.74

   Andre Penner / AP Photo

 
Especially for companies based in the United States, Hospitalar has grown increasingly attractive over the past several years as more and more companies seek to get involved in Brazil and other important South American markets.  Already set to break last year’s high water mark, more American companies have signed up and will occupy more space than ever before at this “thermometer” of the health sector in Brazil.

Brazil’s healthcare sector represents over 8% of the country’s GDP.  In 2009, Brazilian imports of medical equipment and devices totaled around US$ 2.8 billion.  Around 43.2 million Brazilians are covered by health plans/insurance.  Additionally, there are reported to be 218,254 Health Services establishments, 6,733 hospitals and 17,911 medical laboratories in Brazil.  The budget of Brazil’s federal Health Ministry in 2010 was more than US$ 40 billion.

And growth in this field is only predicted to continue.  Expansion in this sector is not merely anecdotal:  just last month the Hospital Nossa Senhora de Lourdes Hospital in the city of São Paulo opened its new Surgery Center occupying a total area of nearly 20,000 square feet.  And the nearby city of São Carlos will receive US$ 4.1 million for the construction of a 100,000 square foot building for the Center for Innovation in Healthcare and for the purchase of equipment and materials.

Hospitalar is an annual trade fair – the last staging of the show in 2010 featured 1,250 exhibitors, representing 36 countries and attracted some 89,000 trade visitors from 60 countries to its accompanying exhibits, congresses, and workshops.

Take the classic Brazilian phrase É boa pra caramba: 
"Boa" by itself means "good."  But when "pra caramba" comes after "good," it transforms “It's good” to “It's amazing!”

Messe Düsseldorf North America, the subsidiary office of Messe Düsseldorf in Germany - organizer of the renowned MEDICA trade fair, is the exclusive representative office of Hospitalar in the United States and Canada, and also organizes the North American Pavilion at the show every year.

Topics: Announcements, MEDICA, medical, medical components, medical equipment, medical supplies, international business, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, medical trade show, medical trade fair, international medical trade fair, Exports, International Trade Shows, North American Pavilion, health, Brazil, Sao Paulo, Hospitalar

Grape Expectations

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 @ 15:30 PM

The international wine and spirits industries will bottleneck again in Düsseldorf, Germany for one of the industry’s most important annual trade events, ProWein 2011.  From March 27-29, all relevant wine producing nations will be represented in the trade show, offering a unique and comprehensive overview.

Trends in the industry will be highlighted, focusing on areas such as crop sustainability and eco-friendly wine grape cultivation.  Bordaeuxing on the obvious, the concept of “sustainability” has gained traction in the recent years, whether it be the German Praedikat Wine Estates’ (VDP) commitment to ecologically sound wine production, or the US state of California’s “Certified California Sustainable Wine Growing” certification program.

But not only will wine be the sole focus.  ProWein will feature the “Spirits” hall 7a, in which 300 exhibitors will present interesting and unusual distilled specialties.  In fact, for the first time Japan will be represented in this area with a group exhibit for the first time.  Kanpai! 

 Additionally, an extensive ancillary program will complement the wines and spirits on display.  At the FIZZZ-Lounge, the publishing house Meininger will again showcase the latest trends for the bar scene.  With the motto “Culinary Cocktails”, high-quality drinks and matching appetizers will be served.  Also, a special delicatessen section called “Wine’s Best Friends” will spotlight edible pairings to match with various wine varieties.  And of course, ProWein will again feature the popular central Tasting Zone, featuring over 1,000 wines!

And now that we’ve wet your whistleThis event is NOT open to the general public!  (Sorry to disappoint all our gentle readers that are amateur wine connoisseurs or distilled beverage aficionados!)

The last staging of the show in March 2010 featured over 3,300 exhibitors and attracted some 36,000 trade visitors:  import/export establishments, retail, restaurant and catering industries.

  describe the image  

For all involved professionally in the field, registration is available online at the show’s website www.prowein.com.  We hope to Syrah all soon at ProWein 2011!


Topics: Announcements, Germany, international, Messe Duesseldorf, international business, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, International Trade, International Trade Shows, beverage, spirit, wine, wine and spirits, wine show, winery, alcohol, spirits, Dusseldorf liquor, Grape

SAVE FOOD – For a World Aware of its Resources

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 @ 11:59 AM

There’s an episode from the long-running FOX televsion comedy series The Simpsons™ in which the family is sitting on the couch watching the news, when a teaser for an upcoming segment appears:

...coming up next, a new fad that's sweeping the nation - wasting food!

The accompanying image is that of a smiling man dumping an entire roasted turkey on a platter into a garbage can, then pouring an entire bottle of fresh milk on top of it. (© FOX / The Simpsons™, Episode 9F02, Lisa The Beauty Queen.)

wasting food  

To be sure it’s a humorous and satirical critique on America’s over-abundance, hyper-consumption, perceived collective laziness, and easy access to everything.  But in actuality millions around the world face a completely different reality about access to food, and especially the ability to safely and efficiently store it.

From May 16 – 17, 2011, Messe Düsseldorf, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), will welcome the premiere of the SAVE FOOD International Congress.  At the center of this meeting, the conflict between nutrition, packaging and sustainability will be addressed.  SAVE FOOD 2011 will illuminate the magnitude and causes of global food waste and underscore the contribution that improved packaging could make in the fight against food waste.

The congress will be held parallel to interpack 2011, the world’s largest and leading international trade fair for the packaging and related processing industries.  It will bring together the most important stakeholders from the food and packaging industries, retail, government, administration, research and the public.

The FAO will present three new studies and surveys of wealthy, developing and emerging nations.  Two of the planned studies will depict the problem of food waste along the worldwide supply chain (loss of nutritional value, deterioration of nutritional quality, insufficient food safety, magnitude of losses), and the third study will focus on concrete perspectives of the packaging industry business model against this background.

For additional information about this unique and important program, click below!

 describe the image    describe the image



Topics: Announcements, Messe Duesseldorf, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, International Trade Shows, packaging, interpack, SAVE FOOD, food packaging, FAO, United Nations

Fresh Wind in the Watersports Industry

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 @ 16:34 PM

Optimism predominates in the run-up to boot 2011

boot   Ahhh, January. 8 hours of daylight. Driving snow storms resulting in icy streets and sidewalks. And the sub-freezing chill that permeates right into your bones - brrrr!  Summer time seems but a distant memory, or too far away to even start thinking about. Yet think about it many do!   boot Duesseldorf, the world's preeminent water sports trade fair, will return to Duesseldorf January 22-30, 2011.  It will warm you up and start you dreaming about your summer vacation!

And the boating industry is also in a positive mood and betting on a good recovery!

Following the slump in boatbuilding by nearly 60% in 2009 relative to the peak year of 2006, demand for boats and yachts was on the upturn again in the first half of 2010.  According to the German Marine Industry Association (BVWW) estimates, boat production was 12% up on the same period the year before.     describe the image

This positive trend is confirmed by the results of the 2010 mid-year business barometer of BVWW. 39.3% of the interviewed companies consider their business situation to be better than in 2009. The recovery extends to nearly all areas of the maritime economy.  Naturally, this is most evident in the new boats market, which had been especially hard hit by the recession.

The other segments in the maritime economy have also profited from the improved mood. This is all the more surprising as the equipment and accessories, charters, maintenance/repair/refit, services and diving segments hardly experienced any kind of dip during the challenging 2009 business year.

describe the image

 

Furthest up the scale on the mood barometer is diving.  75% of the interviewed companies (PY: 45.5%) consider their business performance to be as good or better than the year before.

Viewed overall the mood in the maritime economy has significantly improved both in Germany and abroad!

The international maritime economy is focusing ever more strongly on boot Duesseldorf as the central marketplace for maritime goods and services in the heart of Europe.  The comprehensive panorama of maritime products and services generates valuable synergistic effects that benefit all industry segments, and the expected 50,000 visitors from abroad give this event an international flair that is unequalled among marine trade fairs.  The industry is looking forward with confidence and optimism to boot Duesseldorf 2011!


Topics: Announcements, Germany, Messe, Messe Duesseldorf, international business, Düsseldorf, Messe Düsseldorf, International Trade, International Trade Shows, boat, boating, boot, boot Dusseldorf, boat show, yacht, Dusseldorf boat show, diving, watersporting, water sport

New Generation of Packagings: No Chance for Pharmaceutical Counterfeiting

Posted by Ryan Klemm on Mon, Dec 20, 2010 @ 16:06 PM

describe the image Counterfeiting of medication is rapidly increasing. In Germany, one in twenty medications has been tainted. Researchers are therefore developing authenticity seals and security codes intended to make drug packagings uniquely identifiable.
Anyone who buys Sinupret sinusitis pills from pharmaceuticals producer Bionorica will now see on the folding carton a three-dimensional, optically variable, embossed mark, which can be seen in relief when the carton is tilted. Since the herbal medication was so often copied, Bionorica engaged the Munich company Giesecke & Devrient, which specializes in printing bank notes, to design this tangible security feature for Sinupret. Artur Theis, a subsidiary of the Edelmann Group, developed the production process for the new packaging. The mark is printed and embossed by Braun Pharmadruck, also an Edelmann subsidiary. Sinupret, one of the most popular products on the cold treatment market, is just the start: by the end of 2011, Bionorica intends to emboss the packagings of all its product ranges with the new quality seal. “We want to provide the best possible safeguards for pharmacies and users”, says company head Michael Popp.

Producers who have problems with counterfeiters must make their products uniquely identifiable. This is especially true in the pharmaceutical sector. “The danger of counterfeit medication is growing”, states Ulrike Holzgrabe of the German Pharmaceutical Society (DphG). Although producers of pharmaceuticals experience losses amounting to billions of Euros each year through product piracy, this is not the main problem, since counterfeit medications threaten the health or even the lives of unsuspecting patients.

The Internet is a weak spot

According to EU figures, the German customs authorities seized counterfeit medications worth 11.5 million Euros in 2009 – 30% more than in the previous year. In addition, a World Health Organisation (WHO) study claims that even in supposedly safe regions such as Europe and the U.S., up to 10% of all medications are counterfeit. According to Ulrike Holzgrabe, the proportion of such counterfeit products in Germany is about 5%. “But this is just the tip of the iceberg”, she suspects. Mail order business offers criminals the greatest opportunities. This sector is booming, especially in Germany. Marketing research firm ACNielsen estimates that sales of non-prescription drugs increased by a quarter last year. According to the consumer research consultancy company GfK, one in four Germans now obtain medications by mail order. At the same time, it is apparently becoming harder for consumers to distinguish between reputable mail order pharmacies and illegal traders. Test purchases by the Central Laboratory of German Pharmacists confirm counterfeiting rates of 50% for medications sold by illegal Internet pharmacies, for example.

“Producers of pharmaceuticals are therefore more willing to look for methods to provide better security against counterfeiting”, remarks Ulrike Holzgrabe. The companies have two aims: firstly, consumers should be able to verify that they have received an original product; and secondly, experts should be able to identify counterfeits when they do inspections. The most active companies include not only medicinal plant specialist Bionorica but also Bayer Healthcare, whose products are among the most frequently counterfeited worldwide. The company therefore explains on its website www.vorsicht-faelschung.de how patients can distinguish between original Bayer preparations and imitations. In the future, Bayer Healthcare will also provide its medications packagings with counterfeit-proof features. The Leverkusen-based company has also engaged Artur Theis for this project. “Our task is to make the security features suitable for a folding carton production line, and then for series production”, explains Ulrich Doerstelmann, head of the counterfeiting security department at the Edelmann subsidiary.

Based on banknote printing

In Germany, Artur Theis is regarded as the specialist for uncopyable folding cartons. The conditions in its Wuppertal plant, which has been converted into a complete counterfeiting security facility, are the same as those in a banknote printing company: there is strict access control to the production section, the security zones are off-limits for most of the personnel and all processes are exactly documented and archived. The degree of meticulousness is so far unique in the German packaging industry. The result of the cooperation with Bayer Healthcare is a sort of lenticular image that cannot be imitated by counterfeiters. “We combine printing and embossing technology and use UV security inks,” commented Ulrich Doerstelmann.

The EU, however, requires yet another step to be taken by the pharmaceuticals industry to ensure greater patient safety. Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen announced that in 2011 there will be a standard procedure at EU level in the fight against the counterfeiting of medications. In 2008, the Commission proposed that medication packagings should be protected by a security mark and that in that future it should be possible to retrace their path from the counter back to the factory. The WHO is also a strong supporter of counterfeit-proof labelling. Producers of pharmaceuticals are therefore pushing for the introduction of an electronic proof of origin in form of a track and trace system, with which the complete supply chain can be monitored.

In order to test and demonstrate coding and identification solutions, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) launched a pilot project in Sweden in September 2009. For several weeks, medication packagings for 25 pharmacies in the Stockholm region were provided with a two-dimensional data matrix code. This can hold more information than a simple bar code. In the Swedish project, it contained an article number, a batch number, a use-by date and a serial number. At the pharmacy, the code was scanned and compared immediately with an entry in a database. The whole process took only a few seconds, so that counterfeits were immediately identified. Only after this security check did the customer receive the medication. About 100,000 medicacation packagings were tested using this system – with great success, as the EFPIA reported.

Origin checks by scanner

Experts therefore confidently expect the track and trace system to be implemented throughout Europe in the near future. “The EU’s pharmaceuticals package could become law in 2010”, notes Ulrich Dörstelmann. Manufacturers of machinery and systems are well prepared for a switchover. For example, Optima Group Pharma, which specializes in filling and sealing syringes and vials already offers, on request, coordinated track and trace solutions for producers of pharmaceuticals. “Ready-to-use syringes are stored and transported in special syringe nests in plastic boxes referred to as tubs. Our machines label the containers, so that they can be traced at any time”, explains company spokesman Henning Felix. Bosch Packaging Technology, which supplies filling, processing and packaging technology for the pharmaceuticals industry, also has printing and tracing equipment in its portfolio. Bosch product manager Daniel Sanwald explains the function of the printing module as follows: Each minute, up to 400 folding cartons are transported on a conveyor belt at high-speed through a printer, which labels each carton with a data matrix code containing a production number, use-by date and serial number. A camera subsequently checks and verifies the code. The data are finally stored on a high-capacity central server, from which they can always be called up. If a product that cannot be identified in this way turns up in a pharmacy, it must be a counterfeit. “If track and trace becomes mandatory, thousands of production lines will have to be retooled. We can see enormous market potential for our technology”, says Daniel Sanwald. At interpack 2011, the leading international trade fair for the packaging industry, manufacturers of machinery and systems will present their track and trace solutions from May 12 - 18, 2011 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

A security offensive by producers of pharmaceuticals would also increase demand for high quality packaging materials producers. In order to cut costs during the economic crisis, many companies bought packagings and packaging components for their medications in China. The disadvantage is that these products are often of poorer quality, so that dosage sprays, catheters or pumps, for example, may not function correctly or may break more easily. “All those who subscribe to patient safety and who want to send a clear signal that quality is a top priority, will no longer use these products in the future”, says Peter Roesch, head of sales at atomiser pump manufacturer Aero Pump. He can see a large market for his company’s quality products: “We put a high priority on dimensional accuracy and precision, and we invest heavily in quality assurance and innovation. Aero Pump will also present its innovations at interpack 2011.

It is unlikely that pharmaceutical counterfeiters will be attracted by medications that have been provided with a security mark, a code and top quality packaging. However, there are still many obstacles on the path to obtaining maximum patent protection. An enormous investment is required in order to retool packaging lines and this could prevent pharmaceutical companies from acting quickly. Even if the EU rapidly approves its pharmaceutical packages, the implementation process could take years. Another aspect that has yet to be clarified is where all the data associated with a pan-European track and trace system should be stored. Will there be several geographically dispersed servers or one central system? “And then someone must be the owner. This raises the question of who trusts who?” remarks Bosch manager Daniel Sanwald.

Topics: trade show, international business, Düsseldorf, International Trade, International Trade Shows, trade fair, Product Information, packaging, interpack