Types of pharmaceutical packaging

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Medicines are one of the foundations of the health system necessary for the control and prevention of diseases, as well as effective tools to improve the quality of life of users and patients. The sustainability of the health system finds in drugs the perfect framework to support its guarantee. When talking about medicines, not only do you have to take into account medicine as such, but the whole set of it.

Pharmaceutical serialisation services, for example, plays a fundamental role in ensuring the protection of both the contained product and the patient for whom it is intended. Its functions are aimed at preserving intact the properties and qualities of the medicine and ensure the health of the user through the information they provide, allowing its correct use and conservation.

The packaging also guarantees the traceability of medicine and ensures its legitimate origin. In this way, it defends consumer rights against possible counterfeits. Therefore, the choice of the most suitable materials and packaging for a given medicine is an important decision to make from the first stages of its manufacture, considering aspects such as the pharmaceutical form, the physicochemical characteristics or the route of administration of the drug.

The incorporation of environmental criteria at this stage of choosing and designing a new container, together with the rest of the required requirements, also allows many of the containers used by the pharmaceutical sector to be a visible example of the actions carried out by the pharmaceutical industry in its concern for the environment.

In this sense, laboratories, in their role as producers and/or packers, have a fundamental role in promoting environmental improvement actions on the different types of packaging they use to put their products on the market (including industrial and commercial), making them increasingly sustainable.

Types and forms of packaging

Thus, the different types of packaging most frequently used by the pharmaceutical sector to market its products and which, therefore, may be subject to environmental improvement are the following.

Sales packaging

Designed to constitute a unit for the consumer or end-user at the point of sale. It is in turn made up of:

  • The immediate container: it contains the medicine and, therefore, it will be in direct contact with it. It can be more or less complex and include different closures and accessories for the administration and dosage of the drug.
  • The external container: contains inside the immediate container and contributes to the protection and safety of the medicine. It generally coincides with the case, although it can also include other protection and support elements (bags, racks …).

The sales packaging of medicines will adapt their format to the scope of the medicine they contain. In this way, those intended to be consumed at home will be presented in normal or generally small-size package formats, while some of the medicines in the hospital setting or similar will come packaged in a clinical, larger and more complex format. , since it normally consists of a greater number of containers (immediate and / or external). 

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Grouping and transport containers

The grouping container or packing box is the container that groups several sales units, being used for the supply of the distribution and the pharmacy offices. It usually coincides with a cardboard box of variable dimensions, although there are certain products such as thermolabile ones (which are easily altered by the action of heat), which require more complex packaging packages.

The transport container is designed to facilitate the handling and transportation of the sales units or collective containers, as well as to avoid their physical handling and the possible damages associated with their transportation. Pallets are the most widely used transport packaging in the sector.