Pharmaceutical Trends in the Packaging Industry

6 Pharmaceutical Trends Shaping the Packaging Industry

Pharmaceutics has two primary objectives: treat illnesses and eradicate diseases. As such, the industry consistently innovates its products and processes to produce the best results possible. Pharmaceutical companies had to step up even more with the emergence of COVID-19 by creating, testing, and distributing vaccines worldwide. 

In these unprecedented times, one can see how undamaged or uncontaminated drugs must reach every community. Here, packaging plays a crucial role.

McKinsey & Company forecasted in 2020 that the packaging industry would have to cope with the impact of COVID-19—the increased demand for medical packaging, as consumers stock up on healthcare essentials, including medicines, vitamins, and dietary supplements.

Is the current state of packaging keeping up with pharmaceutical innovations? Read on to discover the latest pharmaceutical trends and what these developments mean for drug manufacturers and packaging companies.

Modern medicine calls for modern packaging solutions. From transportability to security and sustainability, these pharmaceutical trends are vital factors that packaging teams should consider.

1. Glass alternatives

The pharmaceutical industry is probably among the biggest markets for glass manufacturing companies. During the onset of the COVID-19 vaccine production alone, the industry had to source billions of glass vials to store and distribute the vaccines globally. The large-scale demand could inevitably lead to delays and pricing spikes.

Pharma packaging can no longer exclusively depend on glass containers. With drug companies and packaging firms on the hunt for alternatives, the focus is on non-glass packaging materials that tick all the boxes: mass production, non-breakage, non-contamination, and quality standards.

2. New and improved formulations

Good packaging serves as an extension of effective drug engineering. Ideally, the ingredients of a particular drug should not react with the product packaging, or the drug’s efficacy could suffer.

Thus, drug formulators extensively study pharmaceutical advances to favor new formulations—such as biologics or medications that are derivatives of living organisms—while eliminating contamination or performance problems through highly advanced packaging design.

With a better understanding of the pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, product make-up, and end-user requirements, packaging engineers can produce suitable packaging materials that can offer modern drug therapies astounding success. 

3. Smart technology

Nowadays, smart technologies are at the core of pharmaceutical packaging and labeling. Case in point: Abbott Laboratories.

The health care company heavily invests in advanced technological systems, including smart barcodes. The smart-technology-enabled features that Meyers Printing uses in Abbott packaging provide healthcare workers with useful information before administering them to patients, such as a drug’s safety or dosage requirements.

Smart technology in pharmaceutics extends to automation, which inspects printed labels faster and more accurately with the technology’s ability to spot labeling errors.

Medical research and laboratory processes also leverage robotics, such as using machine-operated grips to handle drug containers during packaging.

4. Patient accessibility

Pharmaceutical companies are working hard to make drugs more accessible for everyone. Instead of the traditional glass vials in medical clinics and hospitals, drug makers are now pre-filling syringes, manufacturing wearables, and delivering drug doses in the form of autoinjectors.

As such, people with medical conditions can immediately self-administer the necessary drugs without waiting for a healthcare professional to do it. With prefilled drug containers on the rise, experts are also elevating their packaging. Besides using high-quality materials, they also mold the packaging to match the method of delivering the drug to a patient’s body. Lastly, precise dimensions in packaging are important now more than ever to meet the right drug dose requirements.

patient accessibility for pharma packaging

5. Anti-counterfeiting

Counterfeit drugs endanger human lives, which is why the pharmaceutical industry must adhere to ISO standards and relevant measures such as the Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces to ensure public safety.

Pharma companies and their packaging providers are using drug labels more strategically in the form of booklets. This part of the label spreads out to show all kinds of essential information, including the drug’s usage and dosage, potential side effects, expiry date, and many others, to educate consumers about their medical therapies. Tracking technologies are also prevalent in pharmaceutical packaging, allowing health authorities and users to determine if the drugs originate from reputable brands and catch bad actors.

anti-counterfeiting tracking technologies for pharmaceutical packaging

Tracking technologies are also prevalent in pharmaceutical packaging, allowing health authorities and users to determine if the drugs originate from reputable brands and catch bad actors.

6. Eco-friendliness and sustainability

Drug manufacturers are heeding the call to be environmentally friendly via sustainable packaging, starting with selecting materials that have the least impact across ecosystems, such as recycled materials which are less harmful than non-biodegradable plastics.

Green pharma companies are also partnering with packaging designers and printers with certification in sustainability initiatives to ensure that packaging products come only from sustainably managed environments.

Meanwhile, to tackle excessive waste and carbon emissions, pharmaceutical companies are maximizing packaging space to eliminate bulky packages that consume more energy during production and distribution than what is necessary or good for the planet.

Pharmaceutical Packaging Trends: Ready for the Future

The pharmaceutical industry is evolving at a fast pace to meet market demands while safeguarding public health during these unprecedented times. But without proper packaging, the quality and integrity of drugs could vastly suffer and might be unsuitable for consumption.

Ideally, your brand has already made a good headstart with these key pharmaceutical trends. If you want to incorporate these ideas into your packaging strategy, talk to experts from Meyers and see standout pharma packaging come to life through professional printing solutions.