Pharmaceutical packaging has come a long way from simple pill bottles without child safety measures. New innovations are addressing the needs of distribution and public safety, among other concerns. For example, today’s medicines require regulated packaging to prevent tampering.
Packaging also informs the consumer and protects medicines to help them perform as they should. Incorrect or substandard packaging can result in expensive recalls or public safety issues.
Pharmaceutical packaging continually evolves to keep up with trends. Here’s what to look out for in 2019.
1. Smart Packaging
It’s not just a box or a bottle. Medicine packaging is so much more than the container that holds your pills or liquids.
Advances in packaging allow companies to incorporate smart technology into tracking and delivering medications to retailers. Smart technology also informs you about your medicine.
These kinds of smart upgrades create more efficiency and accuracy when delivering medicine to consumers.
- RFID tags—Instead of barcodes, many pharmaceutical packagers now use RFID tags for tracking packages and pallets throughout the supply chain. These small electronic tags relay information about batch numbers, manufacturers, destinations, and more.
RFID tags are difficult to counterfeit. With the use of RFID tags, your medication travels with a higher level of security.
- NFC tags—Consumers use NFC (Near Field Communication) tags to learn about your medication. Most smartphones can read an NFC tag that connects to the drug manufacturer’s website for more information about the medicine. Learn about the drug’s side effects and remind yourself of the correct dosage.
Smart, electronic tagging also helps reduce the amount of paper that comes with a prescription.
2. Better Safety Packaging
Packaging needs to keep medication out of the wrong hands, like the hands of children. At the same time, medications still need to be easy enough for seniors to open.
Child safety bottles are not new to pharmaceutical packaging. Improvements in safety packaging keep kids out of pill bottles. These same packages work easily for senior citizens who have difficulty opening medicine bottles.
Blister packages also continue to evolve. Some medications that used to come in a bottle now come in a blister package.
Children have a hard time opening new blister package technology. It requires pushing through the packaging in the right spot. Adults and seniors can handle this packaging with ease.
3. Eco-Friendly Packaging
The pharmaceutical industry is working toward better alternatives to wasteful or harmful packaging.
It’s a challenge to balance between eco-conscious materials and FDA-approved packaging. Both the materials and the FDA rules must work together to keep medicine safe.
Some drugs can erode certain types of packaging. When eroded packaging materials combine with medication, the drugs can become harmful to consumers.
These issues affect many liquid medications, including liquids in glass bottles and pre-filled syringes. With innovations in glass coating and other materials, packaging helps protect the medicine for safe travel and storage.
With some of these packaging advances, secondary packaging (like outer boxes) are no longer necessary. These changes keep medicine safer and protect consumers better. Less packaging also helps reduce waste in the environment.
4. Sequential, Serialized Packaging
For many medications, counterfeit versions of the drug exist. It’s a serious issue for consumers and an expensive problem for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are identical to the real medication. However, they usually lack key ingredients or contain the wrong dosage of active ingredients.
The pharmaceutical packaging industry helps fight back against counterfeits with digital packaging. Packages contain a random code generated sequentially.
A batch of codes that matches a shipment goes to the retailer. When the product arrives, your pharmacist matches the codes to confirm the drugs came directly from the manufacturer.
Packaging can also include a digital watermark. Counterfeiters can’t replicate the sequential codes or the watermark on the packaging. Any medication that arrives without correct codes or markings is not the product from the manufacturer.
5. Contract Packaging
Pharmaceutical companies should focus on their expertise in making better medications. Packaging experts should handle that aspect of getting medicines from production to consumers.
More drug manufacturers realize the need for using outside professionals to package for their medications.
Contract companies must comply with FDA regulations for packaging medication. They have the expertise and resources to provide specialized solutions. Packagers also follow FDA guidelines when packaging medications.
Outsourcing packaging can also reduce costs. Instead of building and staffing a packaging division, a drug manufacturer uses a packaging facility equipped for drug packaging.
When more manufacturers follow this trend, it could lead to lower drug costs across the industry.
6. Small Batch, Flexible Packaging
Using a packaging expert allows for personalization. You’ll also experience quicker turn times and the opportunity for smaller batches of medications.
Meeting the demand for medication as it’s needed helps improve quality. This also allows for changes to packaging depending on the final destination. With different regulations for packaging around the globe, small-batch packaging provides flexibility to accommodate different rules.
This type of personalization is ideal for vaccinations. A strain of disease changes over time. Drug manufacturers can produce smaller batches of vaccines to keep up with consumer health needs.
7. Software and Cybersecurity
To keep up with RFID chips and improved, secure digital tracking, the pharmaceutical distribution supply chain needs software and cybersecurity upgrades.
Packaging facilities must be physically secure to protect the products. Cybersecurity is now a significant priority to maintain the safety of medications, from production to final destination.
It’s critical for packaging to protect against data theft and counterfeit drugs.
Pharmaceutical Packaging Must Continue to Innovate
It’s almost hard to believe the technology involved with today’s pharmaceutical packaging. The industry demands constant innovation to keep consumers safe and provide. Pharmaceutical packagers offer a much-needed service to drug manufacturers.
We know the importance of keeping pharmaceuticals safe throughout the supply chain. Roberts Technology Group, Inc. manufactures high-quality film overwrapping equipment for the pharmaceutical industry. Contact us to find out how we can help protect your products and consumers.