Pharma Labels: what doesn't kill you will make you wealthy.

Author:LaManna, Rock
Position:THE BOTTOM Line

In 2002, a documentary called Spellbound followed a group of school-age children as they trained and competed in a national spelling bee. The students worked endlessly in preparation for the event, memorizing and learning the origins of thousands of words. The amount of training and its intensity seemed to border on child abuse.

Yet a comment posed by one of the parents in the film sticks with me to this day. Spelling bee entrant Neil Kadakia's father asked, "What is valuable in life that is easy to achieve?"

The question particularly applies to participating and succeeding in the daunting pharmaceutical label industry. It's an industry rife with regulations and frequent audits. It requires the relentless pursuit of 100% printing accuracy, because one product recall could be catastrophic to all players involved. And of course, it's highly competitive.

There's nothing easy about the pharma label business. Fortunately, the risk also provides huge rewards. This is one of printing's most profitable sectors, and it shows promising growth for 2015 and beyond. A report from the Freedonia Group indicates that demand for the $14.3 billion pharmaceutical packaging industry is to increase 5.3 percent annually through the end of this year.

That's healthy growth, but not everyone gets to play in this sandbox. It takes more than deep pockets or knowing the right people. It takes an elite organization, one that understands how important quality standards are in every aspect of the operation.

These companies don't just give lip service to quality processes. They follow them and improve them, every day, in every way.


For most label printers, the goal is to reduce waste and production miscues as much as possible. Quality processes are important, but more often than not, they're not a label printer's top priority.

I've written often about what it takes to become an organization dedicated to quality. This is a holistic undertaking, in which a company, from top to bottom, focuses on data-driven processes. Transitioning to this world can be a long-term, difficult process. Perhaps that's why so many label printers shy away from making a true commitment to quality controls. Instead, they focus on generating more revenue to compensate for any shortcomings.

You simply don't have that luxury in the pharma industry. As Bruce Rankin, president and CEO of Tursso Companies (we'll get to him in a bit) told me, "We shoot for 100% compliance. We...

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