Without packaging, it would be virtually impossible to deliver pharmaceutical products to patients. Packaging helps protect, contain, carry, dispense, and sell pharmaceuticals. It also helps drug manufacturers educate and motivate consumers.
Advances in designInnovations in package design perform many functions. They prevent children from unwittingly taking dangerous doses of medication, improve seniors' access to pharmaceuticals, protect consumers from malicious tampering, reduce medication errors, simplify adherence to dosage regimens, and educate consumers about the benefits and risks of drugs.
Before the passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) in 1970, an appalling number of toddlers were sickened or died because they accidentally ingested toxic amounts of prescription drugs or aspirin. The PPPA mandated "special packaging" for these products that makes it difficult for a toddler to gain access to a harmful dose. In 1978, iron-containing supplements were added to the list of products that must have child-resistant (CR) packaging. CR packaging concepts include press-and-turn closures, squeeze-and-turn closures, and peel–push blisters.
Several senior-friendly designs have been introduced, but there's still room for improvement. According to the CPSC, "Almost one third of oral prescription drugs involved in accidental ingestions by children under five belongs to someone other than the child's immediate family such as grandparents and other older adults" (2).
In addition to preventing childhood poisonings, packaging helps ensure drug products have not been tampered with and are genuine. Tamper-evident (TE) packaging originated in 1982, when seven people died after ingesting poisoned "Tylenol" capsules. The case, which remains unsolved, resulted in regulations that require TE packaging for most over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals. Options include shrink bands and nonfoam inner seals with a distinctive identifying characteristic, closures with a breakable band, and blister cards. Rules require packaging to carry information about the TE feature so consumers know what to look for.
Counterfeit pharmaceuticals have become a huge problem worldwide as well. In fact, most studies estimate that 10% of drugs in the global supply chain are counterfeit. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (Rockville, MD), "drug products with a high market value or that are high-priced or have high sales volume are more frequently subject to counterfeiting and diversion" (3).