Surprisingly, one of the most significant challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry is getting drugs to patients in the proper packaging. The industry is working every day to innovate in a variety of means, but one that is often overlooked is the packaging. Innovation in packaging is consistently lagging behind innovations being made to eradicate disease and ensure sterile compounds are getting to the public. As new trends begin to shape the pharmaceutical industry's future, it is critical to be prepared and innovative.
Eliminating Glass Dependency
The COVID-19 pandemic brought out critical innovation needed from drug manufacturers. While the vaccine was ready to go, one of the main bottlenecks in distribution ended up being the packaging. Pharmaceutical-grade glass was in high demand, and there was not enough of it to deliver doses to every person on the planet. A clear focus for the future is getting away from glass dependency and diversifying where this glass originates from to eliminate monopolization from a few manufacturers. This also requires innovation in creating new types of vials and drug delivery containers that are just as effective in damage, breakage, and contamination.
Biologics And Molecular Diagnostics
Drugs are being developed in more unique approaches than ever before. For example, many compounds are being derived from living organisms, known as biologics. These are often very complex compounds and require more advanced packaging to protect and preserve their benefits, along with keeping them sterile. In addition, they can be susceptible to conditions around them and require more than what glass containers can provide. As of 2020, half of the ten best-selling drugs were biologics. Given this volume, the need for innovation has never been more critical.
Reducing Adverse Drug Interactions
A primary reason for drug recalls directly relates to particulate contamination. This occurs when containers adversely interact with the medication inside and could cause contamination, swelling, irritation, and more. Even worse, if injected, these could cause allergic reactions or blood clots that could cause life-threatening issues. Therefore, avoiding these adverse reactions is absolutely necessary and may require eliminating additives to drug containers that can cause these reactions.
The last trend that needs to be considered relates to patient accessibility. The industry needs to adapt to the new consumer, who typically would like to self-administer their pharmaceuticals and would like them in the most easy-to-use format possible. Prepackaged options need to be made out of a durable, moldable, and sterile material and need to be precise in how they manage dosing. This is another case where glass will be tough to utilize, and innovation is required.