2022 Pharmaceutical Packaging Trends

According to Forbes, the packaging of pharmaceutical products is the biggest obstacle to accessing advanced vaccines and therapies by patients who need them most.

While the pharmaceutical industry is innovating and inventing new drugs, the drugs may not get to the user in perfect condition. But thankfully, recent trends in the industry are about to improve the situation. Packaging protects drug content from physical and chemical damage during the sale, storage, and use. Packaging of pharma products is done in three levels; primary, secondary, and tertiary.

The primary level is critical for the entire product since the packaging material directly contacts the drug. Hence, the material used must be suitable not to alter the drug’s chemical composition. Some examples of the standard packaging types include vials, strips, ampoules, containers, bags, syringes, blisters, and dosing dopplers.

The primary packaging has an exterior packaging known as secondary packaging, which has an entirely different role. It acts as a secondary containment or a physical barrier. The package consists of trays, cardboard boxes, film packs, etc.

The tertiary packaging is for the transportation of drugs. Regulations recommend shipping pharmaceutical drugs using tertiary packaging to protect the product and its content.

That being said, let’s explore some of the trends that are entering the pharmaceutical packaging industry in 2022.

Eco-friendly Packaging

Consumers want to be more environmentally friendly nowadays. They also want to use less plastic and are more informed about the products available in the market, so they are making informed choices when buying anything. This trend is likely to go on and may affect the demand for some types of products. Polylactic (PLA) acid packaging is one of the important solutions that can help the pharmaceutical industry minimize emissions and manufacture more sustainable goods.

The packaging has been found to reduce emissions and produce even more sustainable products. Other characteristics that make it suitable are its ability to control the temperature of goods in transit and use 65% less energy during production.

All predictors are pointing towards environmental friendliness being a priority for the industry. As a result, new technologies are expected to break into the market in 2022 alongside new proposals for a greener environment.

Use of Nanotechnology to Curb Counterfeiting

The pharma industry is one of the biggest victims of counterfeiting. The use of technology and the expanding internet is a double-edged sword and has affected the industry both ways. On one side, it has boosted sales, but on the other, it has led to more counterfeiting.

With new technology arising, such as nanotech, users can track the origins of drugs through the track and trace system. This prevents drugs from being redistributed into the market.

The Incorporation of Smart Technology into Packaging

Experts assert that smart technology such as NFC, Bluetooth, and QR codes can redefine the packaging of pharmaceutical products by adjusting demand levels and inventory. Another area of packaging that may benefit from the use of new technology is protection by identifying damaged drugs.

The fact that users can monitor temperature by incorporating Bluetooth within the system will be especially important in the transportation of temperature-sensitive drugs.

Accessible Packaging

An accessible package is essential for the pharmaceutical industry. This is because the users need to be in a position to understand dosage and usage, which makes it an important design consideration.

In modern times, drugs are no longer reaching the consumer in conventional vials. However, they are being made in containers that have been prefilled and delivery gadgets such as prefilled cartridges and syringes, wearables, and auto-injectors. In addition, the industry is making drugs that can be administered by the user and do not require a healthcare professional to be present.

Such prefilled packaging options should be made using a material that can be molded to the various delivery methods required, durable, and very exact to deliver the correct dosing, something that a conventional glass cannot fulfill.

Studies are showing that more people are using self-medication to treat symptoms like allergies and other common diseases. That being the case, the industry is adopting clear instructions, allergen highlighting, and clear manufacturing and expiry dates in the packaging.

Overall, the instructions should be clear and easy to read for correct usage.

COVID-19 and the Possibility of Glass Dependence

While drug manufacturers directed all their resources into making, testing, and getting their coronavirus vaccine to the world, they quickly noticed a problem. Packaging would be an obstacle. The sand that is used to make durable pharmaceutical bottles was in high demand, and it was challenging to meet the need of creating glass vials to transport vaccine doses to every person in the world—meaning about 7 billion vials. Making that many vials would have already been an overwhelming task to accomplish, and there was also no time to produce such a massive number of glasses during a pandemic.

Just a handful of companies manufacture pharma glass. When the vaccine was being made, the world depended on them to make the required glasses. The lack of alternatives made the world realize that their overreliance on glass meant the pandemic would take more time to contain.

In the short-term and long-term, companies will try to create alternatives. Therefore, glass manufacturing companies will diversify to ensure there are other options besides the leading suppliers. Vials and containers to use in delivering drugs will be made from new materials that are as good as glass or even better; they can be manufactured quickly, do not contaminate or delaminate drugs, and cannot break and basically eradicate the problems associated with glass.

The Popularity of Molecular and Biologic Diagnostics

How medicines are being made today is another trend that will affect packaging now and in the future. In the past, drugs were mostly made in tiny molecules and synthetic solutions that worked well with glass packaging. Nevertheless, about three decades ago, drug-making started changing to therapies and medicines obtained from living organisms. The resultant drugs are called biologics and are much more complicated than tiny molecule drugs, requiring more sophisticated packaging to preserve and protect their healing benefits.

These medicines are sensitive to their surroundings and therefore require stronger containers than what regular glass can offer. Also, biologics can react with the chemical substances found on the glass surface resulting in contamination.

By 2020, more than 50% of the ten best-selling medicines were biologics, and they will be a huge part of drug treatments in the future. The packaging industry needs to find a way to ensure that this new type of drug can be stored and transported while remaining effective and safe.

Lowered Risk of Severe Drug Reactions

One of the greatest reasons why authorities recall drugs is invisible contents present in the drug bottles and contamination. This occurs when the properties of the surface of containers and glass vials react chemically with the drugs they contain, producing a harmful substance that could have life-threatening effects if injected or ingested by patients.

An important trend will be to eliminate any lubricants or additives added to medicine containers and delivery devices that can cause adverse drug reactions, which means searching for new materials and inventions in packaging.

Tamper-evident and Protective Packaging

Nowadays, consumers and manufacturers care about safety and health more than ever before. This focus on safety has created a demand for tamper-evident and protective packaging. For instance, many manufacturers are using tamper-evident closures, seal bands, and blister packs to give consumers peace of mind and confidence in the product. Pharmaceuticals are one of the industries that benefit immensely from this trend.

Origin Pharma Packaging Takeaway

Origin offers complete pharmaceutical packaging solutions. It can design, manufacture, fill and distribute your next pharmaceutical project. Simplify your packaging supply chain with Origin to save money and time.

References

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2022/01/18/four-trends-shaping-the-future-of-pharma-packaging/?sh=23f0b3d686cd

https://prgazette.com/news/pharmaceutical-packaging-trends-in-2022/

https://www.mjspackaging.com/blog/2022-packaging-trends/

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