Friday, 23 October 2020

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Pharmaceutical Packaging

Packaging is one of the largest growing industries in the world. When given some thought, everything really does revolve around packaging. For example, the book used for a packaging class arrived to the student’s doorstep in perfect condition by no accident. That is the purpose of packaging - to ensure safe arrival of product to the consumer. Without proper packaging, consumers receive all of their products damaged and in poor condition. This does not leave a good impression on the company they are purchasing products from. Not only does this leave a consumer angry with the company, but this can also become a safety issue. Packaging in the pharmaceutical industry needs to be nearly perfect. All the medicine and supplies that gets sent to clinics and hospitals all over the world need to make it to their destination in stellar condition, as a patient’s life may depend on it.

There are many types of packaging designs in the pharmaceutical industry but the two most commonly used are blister packs and bottles. The blister pack is a piece of pre-formed plastic which is molded on top of a piece of cardboard. The cardboard part of the blister pack usually has a layer of foil attached to it that is holding back the medication. Blister packs usually have instructions on them to indicate how to take the medicine out of the pack effectively. Not only do blister packs have instructions on them, but also warnings. These warnings include side effects of taking the drug under certain circumstances and general potential dangers.

Blister packs are commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry as they are incredibly reliable and cheap to mass produce. Blister packs usually are mainly used for over the counter or prescription medicine that is available in pills or tablets. Each pill or tablet can easily be pushed out through the foil layer and into your hand for easy access. Even though there is a lot of good that come with blister packs, there is one small disadvantage to them. People with certain muscle disabilities or arthritis can have a hard time opening these packs and accessing their medicine. But, there have been many improvements to blister packs pertaining to this problem specifically in the past years making them easier to use for these people.

Bottles are also commonly used in the pharmaceutical industry. There are two main types of bottles – glass and plastic. Glass bottles are usually used for liquid medicines as it has better barrier properties than plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are best used for pill/tablet-like prescription medicines. These plastic bottles are mainly an orange or light brown color which helps protect the medicine inside the bottle. These colors prevent certain lights to shine through the bottle and harm the medicine.

With these pharmaceutical packaging designs come risks. A major risk is an infant or child not of responsible age getting into a bottle of prescription medicine or an over the counter anti-inflammatory filled blister pack. Young children love to put random objects that they find fascinating in their mouths. This situation leads to medicinal poisoning more often than it should. According to web.md, in 2012 there were an average of 165 young children every single day getting admitted into a hospital because of medicinal poisoning. Over the last 25 years, the number of children being diagnosed with medicinal poisoning has dramatically gone down. In today’s world, it is not uncommon to have multiple over the counter medicines or prescription medicines lying around the house at all times. Thankfully, the packaging industry has evolved and developed a lot over the years to where this is not as common as an issue as it once was. CR packaging or child-resistant packaging is the type of packaging used to heavily reduce the chance of small children getting into prescription pill bottles and blister packs. There are some exceptions to CR packaging when it comes to older adults with disabilities. Like stated before, older adults are typically more vulnerable to muscle disabilities or arthritis and are unable to open these CR packaged bottles. Pharmacists can then specially order non-CR packaged bottles for these patients if they do not live with a child under a responsible age.

The way a package looks is also a very important part of pharmaceutical packaging. The colors a package has and the way it displays the medicine can make a user more confident in that certain brand over a brand with a less appealing packaging design. This is a very strong marketing tool that companies use to get any advantage they can over their competition. Prescribed medicines have packaging that is more reserved and to the point compared to over the counter medicines. This is because prescription medicines are not usually packaged in boxes that are made to be physically appealing. Prescription medicines are known for what they are and are very specific to specific illnesses. Over the counter medicines are sold much more frequently and seen more often than prescription medicines and therefore have more illuminating packaging designs. The design of a package can be just as important and crucial to a company’s success as the product itself. A consumer is always going to look at the design of the package first before they make their decision on purchasing it based on the quality of the product. Vibrant colors and flashy but recognizable logos gives a brand their own persona.

Not only is the aesthetic part of packaging important but so is how the information on the package is laid out and formatted. A good package will have information that is to the point and easy to find.

Pharmaceutical packaging is not always the same. Depending on the product inside the package, the package can be classified into a certain type of category. Factors that can change the type of packaging are dosage form, administration, and material. For example, a liquidized medicine would be placed into a glass bottle rather than a blister pack. A solid form of medicine like a tablet or pill would be placed into a blister pack rather than a glass bottle. Some type of medicines demand much more complex packaging than bottles and blister packs. Medicines that require to be injected into the flesh are packed into syringes. Syringes are slim tubes with a nozzle and piston that eject liquid in a thin stream. Another type of medicine that has its own specific packaging is any type of spray. Any type of over the counter or prescription spray gets packaged into an aerosol can for easy access sprays.

Packaging is one of the largest growing industries in the world. The demand for packaging engineers is high and is only going to get higher. There are many models and designs that are involved in packaging. Pharmaceutical packaging is extremely diverse because of the limitless possibilities. For each type of medicine there is a specialized type of package. Without all the effort and thought that goes into packaging, product would get damaged, lost, and would not perform like it should.

References

http://www.packcon.org/index.php/en/articles/114-2018/212-pharmaceutical-packaging

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_packaging

https://drugpackage.com/whats-new/what-are-blister-packs/

https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20120320/medication-leading-cause-child-poisoning-us#1

https://penji.co/packaging-design/

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