The use of blister packaging in the pharmaceutical industry continues to rise. Market Research Report, Inc. (marketresearchreports.com) forecasts that in the U.S., the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.11% from 2014-2019. Though blister packs are used in the retail and food industries, the major end-user of the packaging in the U.S. is the pharmaceutical industry.
Blister packs provide excellent protection, security and safety, which are key requirements when dealing with pharmaceuticals. According to the report, increased demand from the pharmaceutical industry is one of the major drivers of the blister packaging market in the U.S. The implementation of FDA regulations, which require that all prescribed pharmaceuticals dispensed in hospitals and nursing homes be packaged in unit-dose formats with barcodes to reduce dispensing errors, has increased sales of blister packs over the years.
“Packagers choose blisters for a variety of reasons. First, blisters provide excellent barrier properties that protect the drug inside from moisture and oxygen ingress, maintaining product integrity for each individual dose. Blisters help to improve patient adherence to dosage regimes by providing space for product information and a clear indication of how many pills have been removed from the pack. They can also be more cost effective for smaller pack sizes versus bottles and provide behind the counter operational efficiencies in pharmacies,” says Ian Lemon, Essentra’s global category manager for healthcare & personal care.
“Blister packaging is a well-established format across the pharmaceutical industry for the primary packaging of solid dose treatment. It is the most common packaging method for solid dose treatments globally, with the exception of the American market, which uses a mix of blister and plastic bottles. Due to its convenience and cost effectiveness, blister packaging is expected to become more common in America over the coming years,” continues Lemon.
New materials in blisters enhance features
In response to the growing need for light, oxygen and moisture barrier packaging, Winpak (winpakhealthcare.com) introduces WinForm 25-45-60 Cold Form laminate for sensitive, hygroscopic pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products. WinForm is three-ply and cold formable, and contains a 45 micron foil sandwiched between a 60 micron PVC film and a proprietary 25 micron film that allows the laminate to stretch in three directions. This stretching results in deeper draw cavities without delamination, cracks and other stresses. The company stresses that while providing deeper draw cavities, WinForm 25-45-60 still optimizes machine speeds due to the added strength and flexibility of the blister laminate.
This year at Pharma EXPO, Bilcare Research Inc. (bilcaresolutions.com) showcased its ECOmply®, an eco-friendly blister, blending standard PVC film with an additive that makes it biodegradable. The blister features all of the functional advantages of PVC, without the PVC-level environmental footprint.
A major obstacle in the industry has been designing a biodegradable package that can withstand mechanical, thermal and biological stress during blister forming and in-market lifecycle. ECOmply breaks down only under anaerobic conditions, typically found in landfills, overcoming this hurdle, while being a cost-effective, eco-friendly blister package. Bilcare Research states that ECOmply film has been tested for biodegradability, and the initial results have shown 18.7% biodegradation in 45 days.
The blister packaging market is growing and evolving and is poised to keep doing so, due to the many packaging benefits.
“The growth prospects for this segment are positive. Macro fundamentals such as extended life expectancy, the increasing incidence of systemic diseases, growing income levels, and more sophisticated healthcare systems in the developing nations are positively driving volumes for drug manufacturers. This in turn drives the usage of blister packaging. Greater adoption of this format in America is growing versus the traditional use of “pour-and-count” in pharmacies due to the increased need to support patient compliance from an aging population and provide simplicity in distribution from the perspective of the pharmacy. As regulations increase and the focus on compliance continues, there will be a growing requirement for printed information on the blister pack. In addition, incorporating brand authentication into blister packs through specialist inks and other security features will prove ever more relevant as companies continue to combat counterfeiters globally,” continues Lemon.
New booklet added to pharmaceutical packs ensure proper communication
In a joint project with packaging manufacturer Edelmann (edelmann.de), Schreiner MediPharm (schreiner-medipharm.com), a Germany-based global provider of specialty pharmaceutical labeling solutions, has developed an innovative solution that makes important product information accessible on the exterior of folding cartons. The new solution eliminates the need for pharmacists or consumers to first open a package before obtaining detailed product information, and meets related requirements of the EU Falsified Medicines Directive 2011/62/EU.
Among other measures, the EU directive requires a security seal for the outer or secondary packaging of medicines, in order to form a barrier and serve as a first-opening indication. With traditional packages, pharmacists must break this seal in order to reach the packaging insert. To eliminate the need for the package’s opening, the companies created a folding box with a Booklet-Label applied to the outside.
Applied to the outer packaging, the multi-page Booklet-Label makes product information easily accessible and readily visible without damaging the original package. It adheres to folding cartons and is easy to open and reclose, thanks to a top layer of film that acts as a cover. The Booklet-Label also is equipped with a security color-shifting ink for integrated protection against counterfeiting.
In addition to aiding pharmacists, the solution has benefits for the consumer too: with the product information and instructions attached to the box, consumers are less likely to misplace it.