8 trends to watch in pharmaceutical packaging

  • By Trevor Nichols
  • August 02, 2016
  • Life Sciences
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • carton
  • Blister packs
  • Labels
  • sachet
  • Bottles
  • Carton packs

1. Continued growth in use of blister packaging

Blister packaging is on the front line of the fight to improve dosage compliance. Mainly because blister packaging makes it easier for patients to keep track of their dosing (days on which medication must be taken can be printed on the reverse of the packaging). Add in the fact that blister packaging protects medication and can be customised to fit a product’s design and you can see why blister packaging is the world’s second best-selling pharmaceutical packaging.

2. Increased focus on child-resistant packaging

The European Child Safety Alliance says that 3,000 children below the age of 14 die every year in Europe from acute poisoning after gaining access to pharmaceutical products. Therefore, companies are developing ingenious blister packaging that is child-proof. Expect more innovations in child-resistant packaging as regulators ratchet up the pressure on pharmaceutical manufacturers to take measures to reduce incidents of poisoned children.

3. Plastic bottles top global demand

Demand for glass pharmaceutical bottles is stalling as the use of plastic bottles continues to grow. Already the most popular pharmaceutical containers in the world, sales of plastic pharmaceutical bottles are estimated to hit $20.6 billion by 2020.

4. Is the pouch already passé?

The survival of the pouch in pharmaceutical packaging will depend on innovations such as the new secondary packaging pouch by Bemis Healthcare Packaging and Presto Products Co. The pouch features child-resistant slider closure while multilayer laminations provide robust barrier protection against oxygen and moisture. This level of safety in the secondary packaging gives manufacturers the option to make primary blister packs from cheaper, non-barrier materials.

5. Growth in prefillable syringes

By the end of 2019, the prefilled syringes market is estimated to account for US $4.98 billion in revenue, say projections from Transparency Market Research. The key drivers identified are: steady and consistent growth in the market for injectable drugs, rising adoption of point-of-care drug administration systems, and problems associated with the vial-and-syringe option that are prompting more healthcare practitioners to opt for prefilled syringes.

6. Shelf-impact vs eco-efficiency

The market for OTC pharmaceuticals is saturated. Competition between brands is fierce. For manufacturers the end-goal has to be packaging that provides maximum impact on the shelf with the minimum materials. Especially as consumers become more engaged with eco-conscious options and manufacturers seek to fulfil CSR obligations. Materials matter. Packaging success, then, is dependent on finding a balance between visual design, practical design and choice of materials.

7. Packaging design puts patient first

Brands are trying to reap an advantage in the OTC market by offering consumers a more convenient way to administer their products. Examples include Strepsils moving from traditional blister packaging to plastic tubes, and Ibuleve offering a fast-absorbing spray alongside their more traditional range of creams. In a modern world where everyone is short on time, the delivery – and even perception – of convenience is key.

8. Consumer engagement through packaging

Codes give brand owners a unique and highly targeted channel for interacting with consumers. Manufacturers can give consumers the option to scan a QR code with their smartphone to reveal a huge range of information on dosing, storage instructions and more.

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