When we talk about innovation in the pharmaceutical field, we immediately associate it with the research, development and distribution of new drugs. But sometimes we forget that the pharmaceutical product also includes pharmaceutical packaging, which therefore participates in innovation, so much so that it becomes a protagonist. Unfortunately, however, we are too often led to take it for granted and this can negatively affect the entire industrial chain.
In the past two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers and pharmaceutical companies have worked hard to develop vaccines and drugs that could save lives and end the emergency.
And they have succeeded: for more than a year now, we have already had the vaccine and have been able to experience the “new normal” as far as possible.
Yet … do you remember when the problem of adequate storage arose for the first vaccines? In fact, they required very low temperatures, only allowed by special refrigerators. The entire distribution would have been affected by this criticality. Fortunately, subsequent vaccines did not present this need. But this event underlined how the best drug in the world cannot really be said to be such if it cannot be adequately stored and distributed. We experienced a similar situation a year later, when the shortage of raw materials caused the production of glass bottles to falter, which struggled to keep up with the pace of vaccine packaging.
But when we talk about the pharmaceutical world, we are not just talking about research: behind every drug we take, behind every vaccine, there are processes that are as long as they are complex. And although research and development have made huge progress in terms of innovation, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted two major problems in this sector: packaging and the distribution chain.
It is on these two elements that the new trends in pharmaceutical packaging in 2022 will be based.
Let us analyse them in detail.
Eco-friendly packaging for drugs too
The issue of sustainability is also becoming increasingly important in the world of pharmaceuticals. Consumers are paying more attention to environmental issues, even when buying a product in a drugstore.
Indeed, it is precisely from the pharmaceutical sector that they expect a concrete stance towards the health of the planet. The necessary use of protective medical devices such as plastic gloves and masks has created a huge amount of medical waste that has helped to attract public attention to “pharmaceutical waste”.
Pharmaceutical packaging is therefore called upon to respond to these new demands. The production of pharmaceutical packaging is having an increasing impact on the environment: non-recyclable plastics and materials used for medical creams or lotions contribute to increase waste and emissions.
Of course, pharmaceutical packaging must first of all guarantee safety and reliability to protect human health: for this reason, there are regulations governing the sector all over the world and also place limits on the type of materials that can be used. But isn’t the health of the environment also a fundamental element of human health?
It is time for the supply chain to compactly promote a concrete commitment to the introduction of processes capable of reducing the environmental impact. For everyone’s benefit.
Smart packaging to fight counterfeiting
The pharmaceutical industry is one of the sectors most affected by counterfeiting. The pandemic, combined with restrictions on personal freedom, has contributed to an increase in online drug purchases, exacerbating the phenomenon.
The emergence of new packaging technologies, however, will be of enormous help in reducing the counterfeiting problem.
Favia’s deformable tube, for example, has a unique technology that turns the packaging into a marketing tool: thanks to the exclusive printing of a code that is not visible to the human eye, it will be possible to display all the additional information on the drug, such as dosage, undesirable effects and how to use it, even through video content, on your smartphone. This invisible code can also be read when the tube is folded or rolled up.
A true 2.0 revolution in pharmaceutical packaging.
The new trends for 2022 see pharmaceutical packaging aiming to improve the usability of the product for the patient or caregiver.
Especially as home care is constantly on the rise, not least because of the epidemiological risk, providing packaging that is easy to use, easy to understand and with an attractive design will improve usability, providing support to the patient without the assistance of a care professional.
One example is the deformable tube with soft nozzle by Favia: thanks to its special soft tip, it makes the application of ophthalmic ointments or creams easier, even for patients with mobility difficulties or children. The risk of accidentally injuring or irritating even the most delicate skin is considerably lower.
Packaging as an alternative to glass
With the pandemic, but more generally over the past few years, glass has been the material of choice for pharmaceutical companies to be associated with different products: pills, syrups, lotions…
However, with the arrival of the Covid vaccines, it was soon realised that this approach was wrong: despite the enormous efforts made in research, once the vaccine was ready we were faced with the problem of a lack of raw materials for packaging. Very few companies in the world produce glass packaging for injectable drugs. Obviously, vaccines had priority in supplies. Right, but … what about the other products, which are also needed?
In the new year, therefore, we will see research into and use of different materials for pharmaceutical packaging, at least for those products where this is possible, such as creams, lotions and ointments.
Aluminium is one of the choices and probably the best. Not only is it a more easily available material than others, but it also contributes to enable an efficient distribution chain: the aluminium tube does not risk breaking or being damaged, it guarantees the quality of the product and reduces the risk of external contamination.
Want to find out more about the benefits of aluminium tubes as pharmaceutical packaging? Click here: https://www.favia.it/en/applications/pharmaceutical/