How to Ensure the Safety of Medical Treatments with Pharmaceutical Packaging

13 Apr 2021

Nowadays, ensuring the safety of medical treatments and, therefore, of the people and laboratories that endorse them, is a deep concern in the pharmaceutical industry. This is not surprising, since the incidents related to counterfeit drugs have surged globally in the last few years, according to data from Statista. The main goal of pharmaceutical packaging is to maximise healthcare product protection, but, how is this achieved? 

Pharmaceutical packaging, an advocate for medical treatment safety

We highlight four of Essentra’s key solutions, which help reinforce the drugs’ safety with pharmaceutical packaging:

1. Serialisation of medical treatments, safety labels and Bollino dispensation

The serialisation of pharmaceutical packaging is the result of a legal requirement stated in several international regulations, created to prevent fraud in this sector. In the case of the European Union, the European Directive 2011/62/EU is the one relating to falsified medicinal products, ensuring security for treatments.

This regulation, in effect since 2019, strengthens the medication’s verification mechanisms, and helps speed the processes to dispose of products when anomalies are detected. For this purpose, it is required that pharmaceutical folding cartons are authenticated in a unified manner through the inclusion of Data Matrix codes and their inscription in national databases, which regulate this very aspect in each country.

Companies such as Essentra that provide folding cartons for medical treatments, safety labels and Bollinos, can carry out pharmaceutical packaging’s pre-serialisation. For the manufacturing laboratories, pre-serialisation is an noteworthy improvement in efficiency, since it saves time and optimises the packaging process later on. Moreover, providers enable the management and printing of unified codes that the laboratory should read and reconcile with their product lines. 

2. Tamper evident solutions for inviolable pharmaceutical packaging

Another way to combat the circulation of falsified medical treatments is tamper evident packaging, this means, unalterable packaging. This concept refers to the inclusion of systems on pharmaceutical packaging that reveal if a drug has been manipulated without authorisation.

In the case of the European Directive 2011/62/EU, there is an additional requirement besides serialisation: the use of tamper evident labels or closures in secondary pharmaceutical containers. With these solutions it is easy to quickly determine whether the medical treatment has been opened or manipulated before its dispensation.

3. Additional anti-counterfeit measures for medical packaging

Due to the expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic, counterfeit drug trafficking has continued to grow, as is shown in the recent Trade in Counterfeit Pharmaceutical Products report published by the OCDE. From the perspective of pharmaceutical packaging, there are other formulas that can also hinder the creation of fake folding cartons, as well as ensuring that counterfeited products are easily identified by users.

At Essentra Packaging we classify anti-counterfeit measures in two groups: the non-visible anti-counterfeit measures, such as reactive and invisible inks, the addition of encrypted information or hidden images; and the visible ones, for instance pearlescent or thermochromic inks and hidden holograms.

4. Safety in pharmaceutical logistics with blockchain and RFID technology

Controlling traceability is essential when detecting irregularities in the supply chain of highly sensitive products, such as pharmaceuticals. New technologies such as blockchain or RFID seals are very helpful in this context because they can be integrated into pharmaceutical packaging. The aim is to track the drugs’ journey very closely from the moment they leave manufacture until they reach the patients.

Balance between safety and usability, the key to pharmaceutical packaging

As experts in the manufacture of secondary packaging for the pharmaceutical sector, at Essentra we have developed technical solutions capable of preventing the drugs’ counterfeit and unwanted manipulation without losing sight of how easy it is to use the packaging. During the design and creation phases, our goal is to achieve accessible packaging that helps the patients adhere to their treatment correctly through extra instructions, infographic explanations and other support materials.

If you would like to know more about our services that deal with ensuring pharmaceutical packaging safety, we encourage you to contact us here.