Perfect packaging? J&J's latest innovation challenge crowdsources single dose ideas

Powder pill packet image for Johnson & Johnson innovation challenge
Johnson & Johnson is seeking ideas in single-dose packaging, which research shows can help with adherence and monitoring as well as reduce medication errors. (Johnson & Johnson)

It’s a wrap for J&J. A product wrap, that is, as Johnson & Johnson Innovation looks to crowdsource the best ideas in single-dose packaging for its latest JLABS QuickFire challenge.

The contest focuses on single-dose packages but also aims for ideas that incorporate child safety measures, environmentally friendly materials and adherence helpers.

Ed Kuffner, M.D., chief medical officer for J&J Consumer Health, who is overseeing the contest, has witnessed many accidental drug ingestions by children as an emergency room physician and medical toxicologist.

While he’s particularly passionate about safety for kids, he’s also excited about the potential for multiple benefits from innovative solutions to this challenge. Research shows, for instance, that unit-dose packaging can help with adherence and monitoring as well as reduce the risk of adult medication errors.

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“If we get a unit-dose package that is appropriately child-resistant, helps with medication assistance, prevents medication error, is sustainable and, at the end of the day, is user friendly for the adults who are using the product, that’s fantastic and what we’re going for,” he said.

The new unit-dosing challenge follows up on a Pill Protect safer medicine storage challenge that ended in July. Gatekeeper Innovation won with its solution for a child-resistant prescription pill minder. J&J kicked off that challenge with an eye toward making over the popular multiday pill boxes that people fill weekly with their meds, Kuffner said. Oftentimes, the boxes are colorful and “fun” looking, and almost all have easy-to-open pop-top lids.

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J&J has been running QuickFire challenges since 2014, with 66 now complete and more than $10 million in grants awarded.

The unit-dose packaging contest winner will get a grant award of up to $100,000 as well as access to the JLABS network and mentorship from experts across J&J companies. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 15, with finalists chosen in December.