Package innovations help Wyeth patients to do everything from taking their vitamins to injecting their clotting factor.

From vitamins to contraceptives, Wyeth has one of the industry’s more eclectic production portfolios. Packaging is a way to make products more functional, increase their marketing appeal, or both. Ease-of-use is a vital concern, especially with self-injectable treatments for conditions like arthritis or hemophilia.

Here are some of the more striking new packages or packaging improvements that Wyeth has put on the market recently:

Lybrel ClickCase: single-unit dispenser

This oral contraceptive made news with its introduction this summer because it’s the first and only combination birth control that is designed to be taken every day, allowing women the possibility to go without their monthly periods. The packaging is as unique as the product and took years to develop.

Lybrel is the first low-dose combination birth control pill that women take 365 days a year, without placebos or pill-free intervals. Since it’s taken daily, the compliance aspect of the package was especially important.

A 28-day supply of pills are in a package trademarked ClickCase. The pills sit in a ring inside the flat device; the ring bears the days of the week, one for each of the 28 pills. The dispenser is actuated with one hand by squeezing the device. This positions a pill under an opening just big enough for one pill. The user simply turns the ClickCase over and the pill drops out. Releasing the device advances the day ring.

Wyeth developed a custom spring to properly advance the day ring. It can withstand in excess of 900 actuations and is strong enough to minimize accidental clicks without being too hard for consumers to dispense a tablet using one hand.

In fact, the ClickCase has received an “Ease of Use” commendation from the Arthritis Foundation. Wyeth also did 56-inch drop tests to make sure it would still function if dropped, and that it wouldn’t pose a choke hazard.

Getting the four components of the ClickCase to work reliably requires part tolerances as small as three-thousandths of an inch. All parts are molded from a specialty grade of recyclable polypropylene resin that minimizes the risk of leachables, physically protects the product and allows the device to function at varying temperatures. The resin uses a clarifying agent in the clear areas to maintain the high-quality image of the product and so that the day ring is easy to read.

Two in-mold labels (the product label on the back and the days of the week on the pill ring), as well as a molded-in product icon, contribute to the sleek, modern appearance of the dispenser. The reverse-printed labels minimize the potential for leachables (chemical migration) from the inks and prevent scuffing to maintain the package’s quality aesthetics.

Centrum: consistent family look

One of Wyeth’s best known consumer products, the Centrum line of vitamins, recently got a packaging makeover to go with a reformulation. The new packaging makes Centrum more appealing, both visually and environmentally.

The Centrum line has five varieties: mainstream Centrum, Centrum Performance (for active adults), Centrum Silver (for older adults), Centrum Cardio (with a cholesterol-lowering ingredient) and Centrum Kids. Each had a different look. The pills were in distinctive plastic bottles with matching ridge designs at closure and base, but the bottles were packaged in stretch cards (blisters attached to paperboard cards). The cards were hard to open and raised concerns about over-packaging and environmentally unfriendly material (the vinyl in the blister).

Wyeth switched the Centrum bottles to paperboard cartons with a fifth panel cut in a unique curve. A narrow die-cut window allows a peek at the trademarked “wave cap” design. Graphics provide continuity across the line through consistent placement of the name and spectral-colored logo, while allowing color scheme changes to distinguish among varieties.

Enbrel: auto-injector

Enbrel is an injectable treatment for arthritis and other auto immune diseases and Wyeth faced the usual challenges for self-injectable products: ease of use, sterility and compliance. In addition, both the device and its packaging were designed for arthritis patients whose dexterity is compromised.

The auto-injector, introduced this summer in the U.S. and Canada, is a way for patients to get a dose of Enbrel safely and reliably. This single-use auto-injector features an inspection window, allowing patients to verify that the dosage is in the auto-injector. It provides for administration with one touch of a button.

Prevnar: convenient prefilled syringe

Prevnar is a vaccine for infants and children that helps prevent certain invasive pneumococcal diseases caused by streptococcus pneumoniae.

Recently, Wyeth introduced prefilled 0.5 milliliter syringes for Prevnar, phasing out single-use vials in every market. The prefilled syringes require less overfill than vials, allowing more patients to be treated with the same amount of vaccine. Wyeth chose this formulation which has the additional convenience feature of not requiring reconstitution. This is one of many Prevnar projects that align with the goal of supplying this product to patients around the globe.

Effexor XR: unit-of-use with combo inserts

The extended release (XR) version of Wyeth’s Effexor, an anti-depressant, was introduced in the fourth quarter of 2006. Generally speaking, the amount of information that has to be included with prescriptions has increased sharply in recent years, especially so with anti-depressants.

Wyeth timed the introduction of unit-of-use packs with labeling changes required by the Food and Drug Administration. Effexor XR is now available in a square bottle in 15-, 30- and 90-counts. Effexor bottle labels have been designed and color-coded with emphasis on brand identification, dosage strength identification and differentiation of tablet count.

The company also simplified the patient and physician information labels. The MedGuide patient information is glued to the physician insert. The Medication Guide is part of new labeling for all anti-depressants, including Effexor and Effexor XR, designed to inform practitioners, patients, family members and caregivers about important safety information. This multipack label is then applied as an outsert to one wall of the bottle. Pharmacists are able to attach customized patient labels over the product label, which wraps around the other three sides of the bottle.

BeneFIX: prefilled diluent syringe, needle-less reconstitution

This self-injected treatment for hemophilia originally required patients to draw a vial of diluent into a vial of medicine via a double-ended needle before infusion. With the new BeneFIX R2 (rapid reconstitution) kit the product is reconstituted via a 5 milliliter prefilled diluent syringe, a clear vial adapter and a single-use vial of BeneFIX. The patient injects the diluent from the pre-filled syringe using the vial adapter, a needle-less transfer device to reconstitute the product. The reconstituted product is then drawn back into the syringe, and is ready to be infused.

Additionally, Wyeth added a 2,000 IU vial size, making BeneFIX available in 250, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 IU vial sizes.