Pharmaceutical packaging continues to evolve at a rapid rate. The 1990s saw the export market expand just as regulatory requirements increased. Thanks to an increase in competition in many industries, customers’ needs and expectations increased. This led to innovations in many industries, including the pharmaceutical packaging industry. What trends are being seen today that continue this process of evolution?
Packaged oral solids must be verified before being presented to the user. An automated system capable of analyzing the shape, number, and color of each item in a package simplifies the verification process because it ensures the pills match the prescription as written for the recipient.
The time needed to package and verify a prescription decreases, allowing a pharmacy to expand operations without bringing on new workers or sacrificing quality. Furthermore, this system simplifies audits, as there is a visual record of each item verified by the system. This is one of several packaging solutions for pharmacies available today.
New Packaging Materials
The global pandemic highlighted the need for new packaging materials. Manufacturers found they were in short supply of the glass containers needed to hold enough COVID vaccines to protect the entire world from the deadly disease. In the future, these manufacturers will expand their efforts to find alternatives to common packaging materials, such as pharmaceutical-grade glass, so they don’t encounter similar problems.
In the past, drugs were provided in standard vials. Today, patients find they often receive their medications in prefilled delivery devices or containers. Examples of these packages include auto-injectors and wearables.
The industry now provides medications that the patient can administer without the help of a doctor or other healthcare professional. However, for this accessible packaging to work, it must be made of a durable material, one that can adjust to the various delivery systems.
In addition, the packaging must be precise to ensure the patient gets the correct dose. This has led to manufacturers moving away from glass, as it cannot handle these specific requirements.
Smart packaging goes beyond prefilled containers. Today, tracking devices are used to follow a medication throughout its journey from the manufacturer to the consumer. The consumer may then use this technology to learn more about the medication.
RFID tags are used for tracking the packages and pallets as they make their way through the supply chain. This tag holds information about the manufacturer, the batch number, where the medication is going, and more. It is hard to make a counterfeit RFID, so the medication is more secure as it moves through the supply chain.
NFC or Near Field Communication tags are another smart packaging option. Consumers can use this tag to get more information about the medication they have been prescribed. When they scan the tag using their smartphone, it connects them to the manufacturer’s website. Here they learn about any side effects that may be seen when they are taking the prescription. They can also review the correct dosage.
The pharmaceutical industry will continue to experience packaging challenges in the coming years. Consumers expect different and better packaging options, especially as the global population expands. In addition, dietary changes around the globe, mingling cultures, and the demand for environmentally friendly packaging will drive innovations in this industry. Pharmaceutical packaging manufacturers must keep up or risk falling behind the competition. Learn more today about packaging trends to prevent this from happening.