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What to consider when creating your pharma packaging

The pharmaceutical industry, and by extension all the packaging required by the products that industry produces, has traditionally been one of the world's most controlled and regulated sectors. Every year, more strictures are placed on the production and packaging of pharma products at a variety of levels, including local, regional, and national governments, and a variety of organizations such as watchdog groups, international regulation boards, and many more. All of this is geared to providing consumers with a very high level of safety but can prove daunting to firms that need to wade through a morass of rules while ensuring their packaging satisfies all the requirements of all the places in which their product will be sold.

There is simply no getting around devising your product's packaging properly. It must conform to all the standards required. However, we can offer some tips we've compiled for project leaders with things to consider prior to engaging in any pharma packaging project.

Ease of use drives adherence

There is a vicious cycle that many companies seem to be unaware of with regard to patient adherence, even though it's been a hot topic for some time now. The doctor prescribes medication. The patient buys it, but finds it difficult to use or access. They stop using it and there is no advancement in the treatment. The doctor prescribes something else. If that second product has packaging that's easier to use, or comes with some sort of adherence aid, or simply does what it should without impacting negatively on the patient experience, there is a much greater chance of a successful treatment. That means the physician involved will be more likely to prescribe it again, driving purchases. If you're going to invest in packaging for a pharmaceutical, never forget to test it for ease of use as if you were a consumer. It may save you a costly switch later.

Compatibility extends effectiveness

Consumers are still getting accustomed to dates on their medication. Many still draw a connection between "best before" dates on food and their pharma products. They don't comprehend that their medicine isn't necessarily going to go bad as food does, but it WILL lose efficacy. Hence, anything that can extend that date and improve the shelf life is going to create a positive perception in the consumer's mind. Making sure you're using the right materials with the right compatibility and barrier properties is an easy way to maximize storage time. By extension, consumers will perceive the product as more valuable and efficacious for longer.

Before launching, test, then test some more

The old phrase says you "shouldn't change horses midstream", meaning it's a mistake to make major changes when you're in the middle of a project. Prior to settling upon a piece of packaging, ask a lot of questions, try out a sample, have your team investigate it, look into its reported properties, and do everything you can to ensure you're selecting as close to a perfect packaging fit as possible. The alternative is to undergo a major change while you're in the midst of production and distribution, which may mean extensive machine recalibration, logistic changes, and a variety of other headaches. It's better to settle problems and satisfy queries prior to getting started.

When in doubt, pay someone to do it

There are many companies on the market dedicated to making things easier for companies seeking to launch a product. Many of them will be specialized in a specific sector, such as pharmaceuticals, and will provide as much or as little assistance as required. You can ask for help with branding, regulation adherence, distribution, serialization, logistics, and yes, even packaging selection. If there's any lack in your team's ability to take the product to market, outsource part of the project and rest more easily. There are a lot of regulations in the space, and making sure you satisfy them all is going to take an expert. If you don't happen to be one, contract the services of someone that is, it'll save time and money in the long run!

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  • Modified 22 Nov 2016
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