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Home » casestudies » MWV Produces First-of-its-Kind Shellpak, the Award-Winning Adherence Packaging Innovation

MeadWestvaco MWV - Healthcare Packaging and Dispensing Solutions

Healthcare Packaging and Dispensing Solutions

Case Study

MWV Produces First-of-its-Kind Shellpak, the Award-Winning Adherence Packaging Innovation

More than a decade ago, MWV embarked on a mission to develop a packaging solution that would address a pervasive problem facing prescription drug patients worldwide: poor medication adherence – not following medication regimens as directed. According to the New England Healthcare Institute, patients who do not follow their medication regimens cost the US healthcare system an estimated $290 billion a year, or 13% of total healthcare expenditures.

MWV recognised that packaging could play a significant role in helping patients better adhere to their medication routines. Improved patient adherence could result in cost savings across the entire healthcare industry, while also creating efficiencies for doctors and pharmacists, and providing tangible health benefits to patients.

In 2000, MWV began developing its Shellpak adherence-promoting packaging solution. Today, Shellpak is one of the packaging solutions used in Wal-Mart’s $4 generic drug and branded drug programs, and its design is based on the premise that better adherence to a medication regimen can ultimately result in longer term improved health outcomes.

Bringing Shellpak to life

MWV designed Shellpak to feature a thin, molded, rigid outer plastic shell to protect pills, and a push-button system that is senior-friendly and child safe. Confident Shellpak could improve patient adherence, MWV began the search for a manufacturing partner that could produce the new Shellpak packaging solution on machinery that already existed. Finding existing machinery to produce an entirely new pharmaceutical innovation could have been a daunting challenge for MWV… but it wasn’t.

MWV partnered with German equipment manufacturer, Uhlmann, to pilot the initial Shellpak production. With more than 60 years of experience, Uhlmann is an innovator in the design and manufacturing of pharmaceutical packaging equipment; it is the global leader in blister packaging machinery.

Pivotal solution with proven patient benefits

Shellpak helps administer pills to patients safely, accurately – and in single, controlled dosages. The flat surface allows for critical drug information and patient education to always remain with the actual drug throughout the prescription period. On the inside, the drugs are pre-filled in a calendarized blister card which helps to remind patients to take their medication correctly and on time, and also helps patients better manage refills.

Designed with the patient’s medication routine in-mind, Shellpak offers the following patient benefits:

  • Adherence: The calendared Shellpak blister is designed to help patients track their medication regimen and improve compliance, possibly resulting in better health
  • Medication protection: Shellpak’s durable outer and easy push-through blister design ensures that medication will be protected from being spilled, crushed or contaminated
  • Ease of use: Shellpak received the highest child resistance rating from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, yet remains easy for seniors to open. The large flat label space makes reading medication information easy for patients, and the portable and discreet design make Shellpak a good fit for consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles

Benefits beyond the patient

Looking beyond the patient, MWV identified additional efficiencies that Shellpak could address throughout the entire supply chain:

  • Pharmacist time savings: From a pharmacist perspective, pre-filled and ready to dispense packaging – such as Shellpak – eliminates the need for pharmacists to repackage medication into pharmacy vials, reducing errors and operating costs, and allowing pharmacists to spend less time counting pills and more time consulting patients
  • Pharmacist cost savings: MWV has also studied the cost implications of pre-filled blister packaging from a pharmacist’s point of view. MWV internal studies have shown that adherence-enhancing packaging can lead to cost savings of up to 5% when the cost of pharmacists’ time required to count pills and place them into vials is included
  • Differentiation in the Marketplace: When looking at pharmaceutical manufacturers in the marketplace, Shellpak’s unique blister design allows manufacturers to differentiate their brands. Shellpak’s flat surface and interior blister card also help pharmaceutical manufacturers better communicate important information to patients
  • Efficient in transportation: Finally, the durable structure and design allows for minimal or no additional shipping material, and is easily stacked during transport, ensuring optimisation of transportation loads

Producing Shellpak

Recognising that Shellpak had the power to significantly transform the marketplace, MWV knew that it needed a manufacturing partner that could help advance the production of the product. However, in order to ensure Shellpak’s accessibility to the marketplace, MWV needed a partner like Ulhmann. Today Shellpak can efficiently run on most industry machinery with very little modification necessary.

Award-winning success

Since its introduction Shellpak has become a one of the industry’s most reliable and widely used adherence package in the world with over 150 million units shipped.

In addition, Shellpak has received a number of critical certifications and prestigious awards over the past several years, including:


  • U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission: Shellpak received the highest child resistance rating: F=1
  • 100 percent score on senior-friendly protocol


  • A top-four finalist at Wal-Mart’s 2009 Supplier of The Year Conference in the category of sustainability
  • 18th Annual DuPont Awards for Packaging (2005)
  • Silver award for innovation in packaging
  • Healthcare packaging compliance council
  • 2006 Compliance Package of the Year Competition, Second Runner Up
Contact MeadWestvaco MWV - Healthcare Packaging and Dispensing Solutions

MeadWestvaco MWV - Healthcare Packaging and Dispensing Solutions

Healthcare Packaging and Dispensing Solutions