Pharmaceutical packaging has never been under scrutiny as much as it has been during the COVID-19 pandemic. When mainstream news stories emerge about the shortage of glass vials as pharmaceutical companies race to get lifesaving vaccines to market, it’s obvious there’s a big problem. While pharmaceutical packaging isn’t as alluring as the medicines and therapeutics it holds, proper packaging is a critical part of delivering medicine safely to those in need.
So what is proper packaging? Up until the past few decades, it’s widely been pharmaceutical-grade glass vials that hold, store and protect medicine from damage, contamination and external factors like moisture, temperature and/or light during shipping and handling.
Glass is used extensively in injectable vials as well as syringes, syrup bottles and the like. Glass is impermeable to microorganisms, moisture, gases and odors, which makes it a strong choice for packaging liquid and semi-solid pharmaceuticals. The most widely utilized type of glass in medical industry is a because of the UV protection it offers. This is important because UV exposure can in many cases negatively impact the efficacy of the medicine inside.
In looking at pharma packaging trends, the glass material segment, which held more than 23.8% market share in 2021, is projected to maintain strong growth over the next several years.
Another sector of the pharmaceutical packaging market that is expected to experience tremendous growth by 2028 is the plastics and polymers material category. They boast many advantages over glass, including:
- Sturdy yet lightweight construction
- Corrosion resistance
- Less chance of toxicity
- Fewer leaks
But there are other reasons that plastics and polymers are expecting impressive growth. They have proven to be a smart choice for the newer medicines and therapeutics that have been developed from live organisms instead of synthetic solutions. In fact, in 2020, more than half of the ten top-selling drugs were biologics, that require a different packaging solution to keep them safe and effective.
And lastly, there are just a handful of companies that supply pharmaceutical-grade glass. As witnessed during the pandemic, sudden increased demand for glass vials added stress to an already embattled healthcare industry. With a booming pharmaceutical industry, the prevalent usage of plastics and polymers, and the increase in the number of medicines with parenteral containers, it’s easy to see why the pharmaceutical packaging market is forecasted to experience healthy growth through 2028.
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