Packaging materials in pharmaceutical industry

Packaging materials in pharmaceutical industry

       Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use.

       Packaging also refers to the process of design, evaluation, and production of packages.

       Pharmaceutical packaging can be defined as the economical means of providing presentation, protection, identification, information, convenience, compliance, integrity and stability of the product.

Types of Packaging 

       Primary packaging- is the material that first envelops the product and holds it. This is usually the smallest unit of distribution or use. Ex. Aerosol spray can, blister packs, bottles

       Secondary packaging - the package external to primary package is known as secondary package, this package provides additional protection during warehousing and also provides information about drug product  ex. Boxes, cartons, leaflets

       Tertiary packaging - It is outer package of secondary packaging & prevents damage to the products. It is used for bulk handling & shipping.

Characteristics of Packaging Material

       The material selected must have the following characteristics 

       Must meet tamper-resistance requirements

       Must be FDA approved

       Must be non-toxic

       Must not impart odor/taste to the product

        Must not reactive with the product

       They must protect the preparation from environmental conditions

Types of Packaging Materials Used For Pharmaceutical Packaging


       Glass has been widely used as a drug packaging material.

        Glass is composed of sand, soda ash, limestone, & cullet.

       Si, Al, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Zn & Ba are generally used into preparation of glass.


       They are hygienic and suitable for sterilization

       They are relatively non-reactive ( depending on the grade chosen)

• It can accept a variety of closures

       They can be used on high speed packaging lines

        They are transparent.

       They have good protection power.

       They can be easily labeled.                                          


        It is relatively heavy

        Glass is fragile so easily broken.

        Release alkali to aqueous preparation

Type of Glass

       Type I—Highly resistant borosilicate glass

       Type II—Treated soda lime glass

        Type III—soda lime glass

       NP—soda glass (non parenteral usage)


       Plastics may be defined as any group of substances, of natural or synthetic origins, consisting chiefly of polymers of high molecular weight that can be moulded into a shape or form by heat and pressure.


       Less weight than glass,


        Variety of sizes and shapes

       Essentially chemically inert, strong, rigid Safety use, high quality, various designs

       Extremely resistant to breakage                             


       Absorption permeable to moisture

       Poor printing, thermostatic charge

Types of plastic


          When heated they may become flexible but they do not become liquid

          e.g. Urea formaldehyde (UF),Phenol formaldehyde ,Melamine formaldehyde (MF), Epoxy resins (epoxides), Polyurethanes (PURs)


          On heating they are soften to viscous fluid which harden again on cooling.

          2. e.g. Polyethylene{HDPE – LDPE}, Polyvinylchloride(PVC),Polystyrene Polypropylene, Nylon(PA), Polyethylene terepthalate(PET) ,Polyvinylidene chloride(PVdC), Polycarbonate Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene(ABS)


       Metals are used for construction of containers. The metals commonly used for this purpose are aluminium ,tin plated steel, stainless steel, tin and lead


       They are impermeable to light, moisture and gases.

       They are made into rigid unbreakable containers by impact extrusion.

       They are light in weight compared to glass containers.

       Labels can printed directly on to their surface


       They are expensive                             

       They react with certain chemicals

Types of Metals

       Tin containers are preferred for food, pharmaceuticals and any product for which purity is considered.

       Tin is the most chemically inert of all collapsible metal tubes

       Lead has the lowest cost of all tube metals and is widely used for non-food products such as adhesives, inks. paints and lubricants.

       Lead should never be used alone for anything taken internally because of the risk lead poison

       With internal linings, lead tubes are used for products such as chloride tooth paste.

       Aluminium tubes offer significant savings in product shipping costs because of their light weight

       They are attractive in nature


       Rubber is used mainly for the construction of closure meant for vials, transfusion fluid bottles, dropping bottles and as washers in many other types of product

Types of Rubber



          Permeability to water vapour .Water absorption is very low. They are relatively cheaper compared to other synthetic rubbers


          Slow decomposition takes place above 130 ▫ C. Oil and solvent resistance is not very good



          Oil resistant due to polar nitrile group. Heat resistant.


          Absorption of bactericide and leaching of extractives are considerable.



          Oil resistant. heat stability is good.



          Heat resistance.Extremely low absorption and permeability of water. Excellent aging characteristic


       Paper and paper boards as packaging material are used to prepre containers as envelops for dispensing powders,few tablets few capsules etc. of as cartoons boxes drums for storing large quantity of drugs in an industries.

       They are mostly used for secondary packging and tertiary packaging

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