Drug safety is a significant concern for big pharma as product tampering, and counterfeiting is dangerous for brands and consumers alike. It’s why the massive multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical packaging industry strives to create secure packaging and use technology to keep tampering at bay.
Thanks to e-commerce and logistical improvements, complex drugs are easily accessible globally, irrespective of their manufacturing location. It presents the industry with the challenge of protecting its products from counterfeiting through distinctive pharmaceutical packaging solutions that ensure each product’s traceability and authenticity.
Let’s explore the latest packaging security trends in the pharmaceutical industry!
Ensuring Product Security
All pharmaceutical drugs, especially life-saving ones, need responsible packaging to prevent misuse and counterfeiting, which has become quite common. Meanwhile, tampering can occur due to mishandling and inefficient storage of drugs.
That said, digitization and technology can prevent tampering and counterfeiting of drugs. Let’s see how:
Secure Packaging through Technology
You can use tamper-proofing solutions to make tampering evident to avoid unauthorized access during storage and transit. Tamper-resistant drug packaging relies on two factors – multiple layers of protection and making tampering evident when the package integrity is compromised.
Here are the steps pharmaceutical companies typically take to tamper-proof a drug:
- Primary Closure – securing the container lid in a way that post-dispatch adjustments are recognizable
- Sealing – ensuring the primary closure doesn’t get damaged during transit
- Isolating – safeguarding the sealed container from other shipments and moisture with a shrink-wrap
- Identification – using distinctive identification numbers to prevent replication and recognize a product in the supply chain
- Secondary Packaging – outer shipping containers designed according to the shippers’ guidelines
Highlighting Tampering in Packages
You can use overt security features and cost-effective systems, such as visual inspection, holograms, tear tapes, etc., to detect tampering. Pharmaceutical companies typically use holograms on their logo to ensure authenticity. A damaged hologram indicates improper storage or rough handling.
They also use colour shift inks to give a 3D effect. They also use single-use polypropylene tapes as seals meant to be broken. Consumers can refuse to accept a product with an already broken tape seal.
Pharmaceutical companies also use covert security features, such as micro text, infrared and UV pigments, microscopic tagging, etc., to prevent counterfeiting of their products. These are difficult to duplicate as they require specialized equipment. Drug manufacturers use security graphics, such as line embossing and line modulation, to produce fine line colour printing like currency printing.
Microtext and latent images also help detect replicas. Companies also use encoding or digital watermarks to verify the drugs and keep counterfeited products off the market.
Package Security via Digitization
The pharmaceutical industry also uses digital tech to combat counterfeiting and ensure seamless supply chain tracking. Counterfeiting apps can scan a medicine and tell the consumer if the drug is authentic or counterfeited. Additionally, digital mass serialization generates a sequence of pseudo-code that verifies a product’s authenticity down the road and protects consumers and brands from counterfeited products.
Security via Product Design
The steps mentioned above help pharmaceutical companies keep their products secure from counterfeiting, ensuring their brand name remains reliable in the eyes of the consumer. However, you also need to take the necessary steps to protect the consumer from counterfeited or tampered products.
Moreover, sophisticated drugs require careful handling and need age-related restrictions. If pharmaceutical companies don’t focus on creating appropriate compliance packaging, consumers can also become victims of expired medicine, or children can access drugs that can be harmful to them.
The following medical compliance packaging solutions resolve these consumer-centric problems via product design:
- Child Resistant Packaging for pharmaceuticals: As mentioned, if a drug features inappropriate packaging, a child can easily access it. This is why pharma companies need to invest in childproof packaging for their more complex drugs. Typically, these PET plastic bottles come with a single-step, click-lock mechanism and are shatterproof, ensuring that the medicine inside the bottle doesn’t end up in a kid’s hands or mouth. These bottles also have a separate tamper seal to discourage drug tampering/
- Expiry Date Validation: A QR code can track a medicine’s manufacturing and expiry date, enabling consumers to scan the code and enter the date into the pharmaceutical company’s website to recheck the expiry and make sure they are consuming a safe product.
The Bottom Line
Pharmaceutical packaging security is critical for the consumer’s safety. It also helps a pharmaceutical brand maintain its reputation as a reliable medicine company and uphold its integrity. The pharmaceutical industry is undoubtedly a complex sector that needs to invest in secure packaging for all drugs. With cutting-edge innovation, digital technology, and consumer willingness, the industry can effectively deal with the compounding issue of drug counterfeiting and tampering.