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Nov 28, 2023

InsightAce Analytic | Clinical Trials , virtual clinical trials , remote clinical trials ,

What is pharmaceutical packaging and why it is important?

 

Pharmaceutical packaging refers to the packaging of medications and other healthcare products. Pharmaceutical packaging is essential to protect and preserve the quality and safety of medications and other healthcare products. It also plays a critical role in ensuring patient safety and preventing errors. Packaging must meet regulatory requirements and be easy for patients to use. In addition, packaging plays a role in the marketing and branding of pharmaceutical products.

Pharmaceutical packaging can take many forms, including bottles, blister packs, pouches, sachets, and containers. The type of packaging used will depend on the product and its intended use. In addition to protecting and preserving the product, pharmaceutical packaging also plays a role in the marketing and branding of the product.

Traditional packaging often relies on non-renewable resources, such as plastic, which are non-biodegradable and even cannot be recycled, which contribute to pollution and resource depletion. Infact According to Forbes pharmaceutical industry emits 55% more CO2 than the automotive industry and pharmaceutical packaging play crucial role in this.  Due to these major factors, there is a need for a solution - Sustainable pharmaceutical packaging refers to packaging for medications and other healthcare products that is environmentally friendly and reduces waste.

 

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What are the main advantages of sustainable pharmaceutical packaging over conventional packaging? Or what is driving the adoption of sustainable pharmaceutical packaging?

 

  1. Reduced environmental impact

One of the main advantages of sustainable packaging is that it has a lower environmental impact than traditional packaging. Sustainable packaging uses recycled or biodegradable materials, which reduces the demand for virgin resources and generates less waste. For example, using recycled paper or cardboard for packaging reduces the demand for trees, while using biodegradable materials such as corn starch reduces the amount of non-biodegradable waste. In contrast, traditional packaging often relies on non-renewable resources, such as plastic, which contribute to pollution and resource depletion. The production of plastic, in particular, generates greenhouse gases and consumes large amounts of energy.

For instance, Pfizer has introduced packaging made from 100% recycled paper and has reduced the amount of packaging material used in its products.

  1. Better resource conservation

Sustainable packaging helps to conserve resources by reducing the demand for virgin materials and promoting the use of recycled materials. This is particularly important as many of the resources used in traditional packaging, such as oil, are non-renewable and are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. By using recycled materials, companies can reduce their reliance on these finite resources and help to preserve them for future generations. In addition, using biodegradable materials can help to reduce the demand for synthetic materials, which are often made from non-renewable resources.

For instance, Johnson & Johnson started using recycled materials in packaging and the implementation of recycling programs for packaging materials to reduce its environmental footprint.

  1. Cost savings

Sustainable packaging can be more cost-effective in the long run due to reduced resource consumption and waste. For example, using recycled materials can reduce the cost of raw materials, and reducing packaging material can reduce shipping and storage costs. In addition, implementing recycling programs for packaging materials can help to further reduce costs. Companies can save money by reducing the amount of waste they generate and by taking advantage of recycling programs and incentives.

For instance, AstraZeneca has introduced packaging made from recycled plastic and has implemented a program to recycle its packaging materials to reduce waste and increase the use of recycled materials.

  1. Improved brand reputation

Companies that prioritize sustainability in their packaging can improve their brand reputation and appeal to consumers who are environmentally conscious. This can be particularly important in the pharmaceutical industry, where consumers are increasingly looking for companies that align with their values. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and build trust with consumers.

  1. Enhanced patient safety:

Sustainable packaging can also improve patient safety by reducing the risk of errors and accidents. For example, packaging that is easy to open and use can reduce the risk of incorrect dosing, and packaging that is designed to prevent contamination can reduce the risk of adverse reactions. In addition, sustainable packaging can help to reduce the risk of medication errors by using clear, easy-to-read labels and tamper-evident features.

  1. Ease of use/ Increase convenience

Sustainable packaging can also be more convenient for patients to use, particularly for those with disabilities. For example, packaging that is easy to open and handle can be particularly helpful for older patients or those with mobility issues. By designing packaging with accessibility in mind, companies can improve the patient experience and ensure that medications are used safely and effectively.

  1. Regulatory compliant

Sustainable packaging can also meet all relevant regulatory requirements, such as those related to labelling and safety. In some cases, sustainable packaging may even go beyond regulatory requirements to provide additional benefits, such as improved patient safety or convenience. By using sustainable packaging, companies can ensure that they are in compliance with regulations and can avoid potential fines or other penalties.

Overall, sustainable pharmaceutical packaging offers numerous advantages over traditional packaging in terms of environmental impact, resource conservation, cost savings, brand reputation, patient safety, ease of use, and regulatory compliance. By embracing sustainability in their packaging, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors, improve their brand reputation, and contribute to the overall sustainability of the healthcare industry.

 

What are major regulations forcing pharmaceutical companies to adopt sustainable packaging?

 

Following are some major regulations and guidelines aim to promote the use of sustainable packaging materials and practices in the pharmaceutical industry, in order to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and improve its sustainability:

  1. The Basel Convention: This international treaty regulates the movement of hazardous waste, including packaging waste, between countries. The Convention aims to prevent the illegal trade in hazardous waste and to promote the environmentally sound management of such waste.
  2. The European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive: This directive sets out the framework for the management of packaging and packaging waste in the European Union. It aims to reduce the environmental impact of packaging and to encourage the use of more sustainable packaging materials.
  3. The United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Guidelines for Environmentally Acceptable Packaging: The FDA has issued guidelines for environmentally acceptable packaging for pharmaceutical products. These guidelines recommend the use of recycled materials, reduction of packaging material, and the use of packaging that is easy to recycle.
  4. The Sustainable Packaging Coalition: The Sustainable Packaging Coalition is a group of companies and organizations that promotes sustainable packaging solutions. The Coalition has developed a set of guidelines for sustainable packaging, which includes recommendations for reducing waste and increasing the use of recycled materials.

 

What are the major trends in the sustainable pharmaceutical packaging?

 

More choices in sustainable packaging materials

Materials continue to move toward broader sustainable options, including: Biodegradable substrates, Bioderived plastics, Recycled materials, and Monomaterial constructions.

Use of Biodegradable substrate:

The adoption of biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging is growing due to increasing environmental concerns, resource conservation, cost savings, and brand reputation. Biodegradable materials, such as corn starch, paper, cardboard, and bamboo, can be broken down by natural processes and do not contribute to pollution and therefore seen as a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional materials, such as plastic.

In addition, biodegradable packaging can be more cost-effective in the long run due to reduced resource consumption and waste. By using biodegradable packaging, companies can improve their brand reputation and appeal to consumers who are environmentally conscious. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors and build trust with consumers.

From a technological perspective, the adoption of biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging is driven by advances in materials science and manufacturing processes. For example, new biodegradable materials, such as bioplastics made from plant-based materials, are being developed that have improved performance and are more suitable for use in pharmaceutical packaging. In addition, new manufacturing processes, such as injection molding, are being developed that can produce biodegradable packaging more efficiently and at lower cost. Overall, these technological advancements are helping to make biodegradable pharmaceutical packaging more viable and attractive to companies.

 

Use of Bioderived Plastic:

Bioderived plastics are an increasingly popular choice for pharmaceutical packaging due to their environmental and economic benefits. They are made from renewable resources, such as plant-based materials, and have a lower carbon footprint than traditional plastics. Some examples of bioderived plastics include polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), cellulose-based plastics, and starch-based plastics.

The adoption of bioderived plastics in pharmaceutical packaging is driven by increasing demand from consumers and regulatory bodies for more sustainable packaging solutions. Regulatory bodies are increasingly setting standards and guidelines for sustainable packaging, which can encourage the use of bioderived plastics. The European Union Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, The United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) Guidelines for Environmentally Acceptable Packaging, and The Sustainable Packaging Coalition are some examples of regulation or guidelines driving use of bioderived plastic.

From a technological standpoint, the use of bioderived plastics in pharmaceutical packaging is driven by advances in bioplastics production. Advances in bioplastics production have made it possible to produce these materials in large quantities at a lower cost, making them more competitive with traditional plastics. In addition, bioderived plastics can be designed to have specific properties, such as being moisture-resistant or transparent, which can make them suitable for use in pharmaceutical packaging.

Overall, the adoption of bioderived plastics in pharmaceutical packaging is driven by both commercial and technological factors. By using bioderived plastics, companies can meet the growing demand for sustainable packaging solutions and take advantage of advances in bioplastics production.

 

Apart from the choosing the sustainable material, there are some other changes being made in pharmaceutical packaging to make it more sustainable.

Using right size packaging:

Designing packaging to the appropriate size is a trend in the pharmaceutical industry due to the benefits it offers in terms of product protection, waste reduction, and a reduced carbon footprint. Using an accurate package size ensures that the product is adequately protected, while also minimizing the use of excess materials. This can reduce waste and lower the carbon footprint of the packaging process by reducing the amount of materials that are introduced into production. For example, Johnson & Johnson has implemented this trend in their packaging design, leading to a 22% reduction in packaging material used and a 50% reduction in waste. Overall, designing packaging to the appropriate size is an important trend in the pharmaceutical industry as it helps to reduce waste, conserve resources, and lower the carbon footprint.

Packaging that improves medication compliance and ease of use

There is a trend towards designing pharmaceutical packaging that promotes medication compliance and ease of use. Medication compliance refers to the extent to which a patient follows a prescribed treatment regimen. Poor medication compliance can lead to negative health outcomes, such as the worsening of medical conditions or the development of resistance to medication.

One way that packaging is promoting medication compliance is by making it easy for patients to use. Packaging that is easy to open and handle can be particularly helpful for older patients or those with mobility issues. In addition, packaging that is designed to prevent contamination can reduce the risk of adverse reactions. Packaging that is easy to use and safe can help to improve the overall patient experience and ensure that medications are used safely and effectively.

Another way that packaging is promoting medication compliance is by providing clear, easy-to-read labels and instructions. This can help to reduce the risk of medication errors, such as incorrect dosing, and ensure that patients understand how to use their medications safely and effectively.

Overall, the trend towards designing packaging that promotes medication compliance and ease of use is driven by the desire to improve patient outcomes and safety. By designing packaging with these considerations in mind, companies can help to ensure that medications are used correctly and effectively.

Growing Importance of Tamper Evidence in Sustainable Pharmaceutical Packaging

The trend of tamper evidence in sustainable pharmaceutical packaging is driven by a need to ensure the safety and integrity of pharmaceutical products. Tamper evidence refers to features on the packaging that indicate whether the product has been opened or tampered with. These features can include seals, bands, or other indicators that are visibly damaged or altered if the package is opened.

The use of tamper evidence is important in the pharmaceutical industry as it helps to prevent medication errors and adverse reactions by ensuring that patients are receiving unopened and untampered-with products. It also helps to prevent counterfeiting and the distribution of fake or substandard medications.

There are a few different approaches to tamper evidence in sustainable pharmaceutical packaging. One approach is the use of materials that are difficult to tamper with, such as child-resistant closures or materials that are difficult to puncture or open. Another approach is the use of packaging designs that are difficult to replicate, such as holograms or other security features.

Overall, the trend of tamper evidence in sustainable pharmaceutical packaging is an important one as it helps to ensure the safety and integrity of pharmaceutical products, while also protecting consumers from counterfeiting and fake or substandard medications.

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