Research and development of new medicines isn’t the only area in which pharmaceutical companies invest a great deal of time, thought and money. They also put a lot of planning and innovation into drug packaging. When you think about all the roles packaging must serve, and the diverse range of end-users it has to work for, it’s easy to see why drug packaging is, in many ways, as important as the products it protects.
All things to all people
Most packaging has two straightforward purposes — to protect a product and to entice people to buy the item. Drug packaging needs to fulfill those functions, but it also has to accomplish much more, including:
- Protect sensitive medication from contamination or damage, regardless of the form of the drug (liquid, powder, pill, etc.).
- Ensure the safety
of the medicine and users.
- Reduce the risk of misuse by children.
- Ensure the authenticity of the medication.
- Make it easy for users to access the drug.
- Make clear to users exactly how a drug is to be used.
- Promote patient adherence to prescribing directions.
- Meet regulatory standards for drug packaging.
- Fulfill marketing goals (although this consideration will always take a back seat to compliance and safety).
Virtually every aspect of drug packaging is important, and packaging can help drug makers address issues such as overall effectiveness of treatment and patient adherence. Increasingly, ensuring the authenticity of drug products is becoming a priority for drug-packaging makers.
Counterfeit medications have become a growing problem globally; 10–30 percent of all drugs sold in developing countries are believed to be counterfeit, and the counterfeit drug market tops $200 billion per year, reports HealthResearchFunding.org.
Packaging can serve as an important layer of protection between counterfeit drugs and an unsuspecting public. In addition to widely used packaging security measures like holograms and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, drug makers are looking at personalized packaging to help improve authentication, Packaging Digest reports. Label warnings based on a patient’s personal medical history will help patients know they’re taking the right medication.
The health-care industry is expected to continue growing as more baby boomers reach their golden years. Drug packaging will continue to be a critical component in ensuring the American public remains safe and healthy, regardless of their age. The most miraculous drug can’t serve its intended purpose if the consumer isn’t able to get it out of the package quickly and easily, or if patients take counterfeit medications instead.