The Development of Primary Packaging in the Pharmaceutical Market

It is difficult to truly apply a value to the important role that primary packaging plays in ensuring the safe distribution and inevitably the safe administration of pharmaceutical products by the consumer. Pharma packaging has developed to new heights over recent years and continues to embrace complexity and innovation in order to meet the ethical demands for sustainability and the commercial preference for brand dominance, whilst at the same time policies have become equally challenging and stringent in their bearing.

Packaging in the pharmaceutical market has always been an important element of the drug development process and supply chain. However, in 2016 the pressure is unparalleled in ensuring that materials are compliant, sustainable to the overall success of primary packaging becoming a winning achievement in a medical context, of any given element.

The geographical growth map for primary packaging shows that, as predicated the U.S have the majority of the market (approx. 60% of overall value of the market). However with other markets developing such as India, Brazil and Mexico, they are becoming more sophisticated in the design approach to primary packaging and an accelerated programme in manufacturing facilities.

The primary packaging market will grow organically (*annually) by 6.6%, which will take the overall total value of the industry to $57billion in 2017. The market trend is seeing a rise in demand for prefillable, injectable and single unit dose due to where drug innovation and advances in biotechnology with parenteral therapies requiring prefillable designs to deliver to the end user. A big challenge for the packaging remit, as the design needs to consider the filling process and commerciality of the design as well as the ease of use.

The fact that highly engineered devices and refillables are becoming strong competition, the plastic bottle will still remain as the most used piece of primary packaging for oral drugs, globally. OTC products will for the foreseeable future continue to use bottle form for its primary packaging. Interestingly glass pharmaceutical bottles will see a decrease in demand.

Innovation is an ever growing part of the pharmaceutical primary packaging remit, and there are some very interesting developments that will assist in driving down the unnecessary statistic of end users being hospitalised, through taking out of date drugs. Self-expiring packaging that instantly attracts the attention of the user, to the date of expiry. When the expiry date passes the diffusible material disintegrates, revealing the warning symbols. A great technique if senior users are struggling to read the expiry date.

The selection of what packaging is going to be implemented has a strong impact on the final cost of the overall product. The pharmaceutical industry needs to become better at engaging with packaging suppliers earlier in the process of the drug development. Not only can the design be refined if needed, the drug company can safely project the final cost of the overall development without any surprises.

Primary packaging is becoming an important asset in any drug development process. As more complexed drugs are created, primary packaging is matching the complexities of the formulations. A new generation of packaging engineers and technologists are on the way up – it is an innovative and exciting time for the pharmaceutical market.