Holographic effects can increase the tamper-proofing of drug packaging. Photo: Schur Flexibles Group
Safe and simple at the same time
In the pharmaceutical industry and its associated companies in the packaging sector no compromises are made when it comes to product safety. Numerous specifications and directives have to be complied with and there is an increasing call for convenience also due to the ageing population.
Protection is the highest priority
Pharmaceutical packaging has to feature special barrier properties to protect drugs. Its prime task is to prevent the migration of aromas, fats or oils. Furthermore, packaging materials have to offer good chemical resistance and also withstand water vapour. The Danapak company has launched a new film that is said to live up to all these high barrier requirements. With this in mind the flexible packaging specialist forming part of the Schur Flexibles Group has developed a new material: Low Absorption Sealant (LAS) was presented as an alternative to customary polymers such as Barex and is suitable for use as an extruded polymer or as a composite film. Both the film’s barrier properties and its material thickness and stiffness are said to be comparable to conventional materials. In terms of sealing temperature the new material is said to require the same or even lower temperatures and can therefore be used on all standard packaging lines.
Combining safety with convenience is a top priority for pharmaceutical packaging. Photo: Danapak Flexibles
However, it is not only the drugs themselves but also their users that need protection against improper use. This applies to children, in particular. The Danish company therefore offers a variety of solutions for especially child-safe and user-friendly opening plus convenient dosing. To this end the drugs are wrapped individually in blisters with a perforation. For removal the individual cavities along the perforation have to be separated first to reveal the peel edge of the sealing foil that allows the packaging to be opened conveniently.
However, improper opening of drug packaging has to be made hard not only for children but also for counterfeiters. The billion-dollar counterfeit drug business is a major health risk for many people and causes substantial losses to the pharmaceutical industry. Governments around the globe have already adopted various regulations and provisions to prevent product piracy in the pharmaceutical sector. One case in point is the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/161 of the European Union. In compliance with this regulation all non-OTC drugs have to feature unique identifiers and anti-tampering devices.
Punched-out parts of the folded box reveal whether the box was previously opened. Photo: Rondo/Medipak Systems
The packaging industry is also continuously working on new safe packaging solutions. Companies offer a variety of labelling solutions to provide tamper-proof protection. Thanks to serialisation and track & trace features individual drug boxes with serial numbers can be tracked and each drug contained in them can be traced. In addition to this, packaging units are often provided with anti-counterfeiting features. Holographic films, synthetic DNA or laser codes plus special printing inks increase safety as do tamper-evidence labels that are attached to the drug packaging or completely glued to them after filling.
Not only does drug packaging have to be safe it also needs to be user-friendly. Patients should be in a position to take their drugs according to doctor’s orders. Patient compliance can be helped by user-friendly packaging solutions such as dosing aids that facilitate precise drug administration. Blister packaging has stood the test of time here. In modern blister packs the tablets or capsules are kept in a base layer of aluminium, paper or plastic and safely locked with a blister card.
Children are curious and therefore must be particularly well protected against unsafe access to drugs by means of targeted safety closures. Photo: Andrey Kiselev, Foto-ID: #145376104, www.fotolia.com
Now that the use of smartphones is widespread the packaging industry has also started making use of modern technologies such as NFC or Organic & Printed Electronics. These allow packaging inserts and additional information on the drug to be retrieved easily and drugs to be re-ordered conveniently. In future, pharmaceutical packaging will not only cater to just about every wish but also become an integral part of a total e-health concept.