Pharmaceutical packaging is the packages and the packaging processes for pharmaceutical preparations. It involves all of the operations from production through distribution channels to the end consumer.
Pharmaceutical packaging is highly regulated but with some variation in the details, depending on the country of origin or the region. Several common factors can include: assurance of patient safety, assurance of the efficacy of the drug through the intended shelf life, uniformity of the drug through different production lots, thorough documentation of all materials and processes, control of possible migration of packaging components into the drug, control of degradation of the drug by oxygen, moisture, heat, etc., prevention of microbial contamination, sterility, etc. Packaging is often involved in dispensing, dosing, and use of the pharmaceutical product. Communication of proper use and cautionary labels are also regulated. Packaging is an integral part of pharmaceutical product.
Blister packs are pre-formed plastic/paper/foil packaging used for formed solid drugs. The primary component of a blister pack is a cavity or pocket made from a thermoformed plastic. This usually has a backing of paperboard or a lidding seal of aluminum foil or plastic film. Blister packs are useful for protecting drugs against external factors, such as humidity and contamination for extended periods of time.
Bottles are commonly used for liquid pharmaceuticals as well as formed tablets and capsules. Glass is most common for liquids because it is inert and has excellent barrier properties. Various types of plastic bottles are used both by drug producers as well as by pharmacists in a pharmacy.
Prescription bottles come in several different colors, the most common of which being orange or light brown due to its ability to prevent ultraviolet light from degrading the potentially photosensitive contents through photochemical reactions, while still letting enough visible light through for the contents to be easily visible. Other common colors include: Clear (for compounds that don't degrade in light), blue, dark brown, green, and various opaque hues.
Some mail order pharmacies are now offering timed dosing packets for medications. They put a certain number of pills, as directed by your physician into a plastic package and print the date and time that the drugs are to be taken. It is used for people with multiple medications that are taken at different times of the day.
As an professional packaging machine manufacturer, all aspects of pharmaceutical production, including packaging, are tightly controlled and have regulatory requirements. Uniformity, cleanliness, sterility, and other requirements are needed to maintain Good Manufacturing Practices. Product safety management is vital. A complete Quality Management System must be in place. Validation involves collecting documentary evidence of all aspects of compliance. Hazard analysis and critical control points is a methodology which has been proven useful. Quality assurance extends beyond the packaging operations through distribution and cold chain management; Good distribution practice is often a regulatory requirement. With a large portion of pharmaceutical packaging being outsourced to contract packagers, additional demand is being placed on specialty areas, i.e. specialty dosage forms.