Secure packaging, labeling and track and trace serialisation are essential to maintaining the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain. With orders for drugs and pharmaceuticals totaling hundreds of billions of dollars each year, tracking medications ensures the security of the pharmaceutical supply chain. Track and trace solutions and secure packaging like medical blister packaging make identification of lots easier and prevent the introduction of counterfeit medications into the nation’s supply.
Tracking the pharmaceutical supply chain
The U.S. pharmaceuticals market is worth about 231.46 billion dollars as of 2011. Almost half or 48.5% of all Americans report that they have used at least one prescription drug within the past month. In 2010 alone, doctors ordered or provided outpatients 285.1 million prescription drugs. And in the same year, 271.4 million prescription drugs were ordered or provided to hospital emergency room patients. Medications and pharmaceutical supply are a major business and like others, are susceptible to fraud, theft and the introduction of counterfeit products.
Tracking the pharmaceutical supply chain is essential to maintaining the safety of the medical supply system. Keeping track of medications on this vast scale is both necessary and complicated. The pharmaceutical supply chain uses track and trace pharmaceutical systems to record data such as product information including the drug?s strength and expiration date, and production information such as the lot and serial numbers.
Packaging and safety
Medical packaging techniques play an important role in maintaining the safety of medications from production to dispensers to end users. Blister packaging ensures that the contents will be safe from contamination and breakage. Blister packaging can come with child safety features, making it impossible for children to open them. For quality control purposes, lot numbers and expiration dates are often printed on the blister packaging itself.
Bottle and carton packaging offer various advantages. Bottle packaging comes with tamper-proof seals that guarantee the quality of the product. Bottle tops can easily be made childproof, and bottle labels can carry bar codes with product identification information.
Pouches and specialized packaging
Sometimes liquid medications are packaged in pouches or sachets, which can contain pre measured doses. Pouches are easy to open and dispose of, and can be made childproof.
Some manufacturers choose to add one more stage of packaging with a carton. A carton allows for inserts with important information about dosage, indications and warnings. Including product information and instructions in the carton decreases the chances of misuse of the medication it contains.
Some injectable products like auto injector pens and sterilized bottles need specialized packages.
All types of medical packaging have some common goals and functions: to ensure the security of the medication and avoid contamination; to make the packaging childproof; to carry product identification information; and to provide instructions and directions for use. Taken all together, these measures help to ensure the integrity of the pharmaceutical supply chain and the nation’s supply of medication.