June 2015 – Experts are expecting the US blister market to grow by over 6 per cent a year until 2019. Yet rising demands for this packaging type, which is primarily used for medical preparations, have also been forecast for Asian countries. The reasons for such positive prospects are twofold: firstly the high quality of blister packs, but secondly also demographic developments around the globe.
Growing interest also has demographic reasons
Blister packs have been used widely in European countries for many years, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry. As prescription drugs in the United States have longer shelf lives, on average, the US market has so far been dominated by more voluminous packaging, such as bottles and cans. The introduction of new US regulations means that non-OTC drugs now need to be packaged in identical formats and must be given barcodes. This is to prevent patients’ mistakes while taking their medication and also counterfeit products. The report says that there has been a general increase in the demand for pharmaceuticals, mainly due to a higher average age of the world’s population.
In Asia the general pharmaceutical markets is expected to rise 28 per cent over the next three years. However, the growth in production volume is impacting not only blister packs, but also other packaging types, such as folding boxes, strip packs and bubble packaging. Furthermore, there are now new manufacturing processes for drugs, such as the shock-freezing and drying of fast-dissolving ingredients for innovative packaging options.
A state-of-the-art blister pack usually comprises a basic coat of aluminium or robust paper or plastic and a transparent plastic film through which the individual tablets can then be squeezed one by one. This has proved cost-effective to produce and also less wasteful than other types of packaging, as it requires relatively little material. Above all, tablets are easy to remove and to dose, thus contributing to better patient satisfaction.
Also, over the last few years, the use of high-quality raw materials has led to improvements in the quality of safety standards. Being extremely resistant and almost indestructible, blister packs are ideally suited for medical equipment and electronic products. The transparent film makes it possible to identify a product quickly and to enhance its advertising impact at the POS.
The design of a blister pack is becoming more and more consumer-friendly, with informative labels and slider packs, specifying the exact week and even day, so that patients can avoid mistakes when taking their medication. Yet the main area in which standards keep rising is the safety of the drug itself. Automated filling and sealing processes during production are in place, reducing the risk of impurities, and innovative label imprints ensure that products become more traceable.