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Packaging development in pharma industry throughout the years

Janet Schultze
Written by
Janet Schultze
/ Published on
May 8, 2023
Packaging development in pharma industry

Over the past decades, the pharmaceutical packaging industry has been subjected to quite some changes. In order to understand the packaging development in pharma and its current position, it is crucial to review how it has evolved throughout the years. In this blog post, we will elaborate on what a packaging development is, what the drivers are and how it has transformed.

Importance of packaging in the pharma industry

Pharmaceutical packaging is the storage place of medicines that should be able to maintain for a longer period of time. Packaging specialists design solutions that can cultivate for the physical, chemical and biological condition of the medicine. The process includes developing the right primary and secondary, or even tertiary packaging, but also designing of packages and boxes, texts and logos.

What is packaging development in pharma?

The pharmaceutical packaging development is the process of both designing and developing packaging – for pharmaceutical products – that meet the exact requirement of the medication, its intended purpose and the regulatory requirements. Every time, the development process includes various stages: conceptualization, design, testing and validation.

Drivers of pharmaceutical packaging development

Pharma packaging has gained more attention over the years, which has been caused by various factors. Some of these factors are: globalization, flourishing export market, stricter regulatory requirements, increasing competition, advancing of digital technology, mergers and acquisitions, and growing customer needs and expectations. Briefly, we will discuss the most important factors.

Costumer needs

Plenty of different packaging have been developed over the years. Still, however, the pharma sector keeps developing new packaging as well as technology to supply it. What drives this need? Patient compliance is one of the most significant aspects that stimulates the pharmaceutical packaging development. Ease of use, safety and convenience are fundamental to comply with. Suppliers need to ensure that people who have limited mobility – think of elderly – can still easily open and close the packaging, whereas for instance children should not be able to open it effortlessly. These specific requirements can be responsible for a challenging task for the supplier in the pharmaceutical packaging industry. In the meantime, the packaging should provide adequate production to the medication from environmental factors such as light, moisture and oxygen.

Need of transparency

Additionally, the pharma sector is a fast-growing industry. Not only is its market expending tremendously, but also the regulatory requirements keep evolving along with the competition and digital technology. Today’s technology, such as track and trace, QR codes and tamper-evident measures, provided the opportunity to operate transparently and thereby improve customer experience. Moreover, in the US, the transparency is especially important in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry as it is strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Big or small, all manufacturers should comply to the strict code when it comes to medicine labeling to get their products FDA approved.

Need of accuracy

All these elements make pharmaceutical packaging development a complicated and highly regulated procedure that needs coherent collaboration between packaging experts, regulatory authorities and pharma manufactures. Packaging technology in the pharmaceutical industry goes hand in hand with supply chain and product development. Accurate testing, which needs to be done over and over again, is the key in order to succeed in the pharmaceutical packaging development. All to apply to the stricter FDA regulations.

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Packaging development in pharma over the years

Years ago, the packaging solely served the packing function. Today, however, with globalization and stricter regulatory laws, the packaging specialists need to be enlightened regarding the most recent requirements. This results into the packaging development in pharma. Every co-packing solution needs to be cost-effective, cultivate for the physical, chemical and biological condition of the drug, and bring the brand image to life. At this moment, there are many more different responsibilities a packaging expert needs to take into consideration.

Examples of recent pharmaceutical packaging

In order to be able to visualize the packaging development in pharma, it may help to view some examples. For instance, child-resistance packaging which is not only child resistant, but also senior friendly. Or blister packaging that has prolonged the shelf-life due to its better barrier properties.

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