From material type to the environmental impact it generates, the manufacture of packaging involves a multitude of choices that have an impact on its design. The packaging of pharmaceuticals is more important than it seems at first glance. Medicines are a cornerstone of the health care system and the packaging that contains them plays an essential role in ensuring their quality, safety and reliability. Their purpose is to preserve the properties of the drug and to ensure the health of the patient.
Pharmaceutical forms and types of packaging
Many medicines come in different forms and can be packaged in different ways. Whether in liquid, capsule, cream or spray form, each medicine will have needs that can be met by one package or another.
Some of the most common forms of medicines and the packaging that accompany them, as well as the materials from which they are made, include:
- syrups or liquids: they are generally packaged in a bottle which can be glass or plastic. These products are filled and plugged with filling and capping monoblocks which are the most suitable machines for this type of filling in the pharmaceutical or cosmetic industry.
Syrups usually have “child-proof” and “age-appropriate” caps and closures (which are very difficult for children to open but can be opened by adults within a reasonable time)
- Tablets and capsules: the tablets are generally rounded, sometimes slit to indicate that they can be broken while the capsules are elongated and wrap the medicine in a film generally made of gelatin in two assembled pieces.
The tablets and capsules are made in neutral colors to make them less attractive to children. They are available either in blister packs (cavity film with a quick-open or folding sheet) or loose in a vial.
- Creams / ointments / lotions: are presented in tubes which can be aluminum, metal or recyclable plastic for better use of the product
- The granules or powder are usually presented in sachets (or sometimes also in glass or plastic bottles, depending on the type of medicine).
Objectives during the manufacture of packaging
The packaging are manufactured according to criteria that cannot be random because they ensure that the medicine is safe and that it has not been tampered with before reaching the patient for whom it is intended.
In order to guarantee its safety, quality and traceability, certain objectives are kept in mind when manufacturing packaging:
- Preserve the qualities of the drug: the packaging must guarantee the protection of the drug against external factors such as light, temperature, etc.
- To ensure the safe course of the medicine: the packaging includes tools such as optical devices and traceability systems (optical or radio frequency reading codes) to guarantee its origin.
- Protect the patient: the packaging is designed with “tamper-evident” features that indicate if it has already been opened, such as the warranty rings on the jars of tablets. It is also designed "childproof" to prevent accidental poisoning and to make it more difficult to open.