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The pharmaceutical package market is constantly advancing and has experienced annual growth of at least five percent per annum in the past few years. The market is now reckoned to be worth over $20 billion a year. As with most other packaged goods, pharmaceuticals need reliable and speedy packaging solutions that deliver a combination of product protection, quality, tamper evidence, patient comfort and security needs. Constant innovations in the pharmaceuticals themselves such as, blow fill seal (BFS) vials, anti-counterfeit measures, plasma impulse chemical vapor deposition (PICVD) coating technology, snap off ampoules, unit dose vials, two-in-one prefilled vial design, prefilled syringes and child-resistant packs have a direct impact on the packaging. The review details several of the recent pharmaceutical packaging trends that are impacting packaging industry, and offers some predictions for the future.

Packaging is defined as the collection of different components which surround the pharmaceutical raw material from the time of production until its use. Packaging pharmaceutical products is a broad, encompassing, and multi-faceted task. Packaging is responsible for providing life-saving drugs, medical devices, medical treatments, and new products like medical nutritionals (nutraceuticals) in every imaginable dosage form to deliver every type of supplement, poultice, liquid, solid, powder, suspension, or drop to people the world over. It is transparent to the end user when done well and is open to criticism from all quarters when done poorly.[1,2]

Traditionally, the majority of medicines (51%) have been taken orally by tablets or capsules, which are either packed in blister packs (very common in Europe and Asia) or fed into plastic pharmaceutical glass bottle (especially in the USA). Powders, pastilles and liquids also make up part of the oral veterinary medicine intake. However, other methods for taking medicines are now being more widely used. These include parentral or intravenous (29%), inhalation (17%), and transdermal (3%) methods.

BFS technology reduces personnel intervention making it a more robust method for the aseptic preparation of saccharin sodium.

The most important of the tamper evident security labels and have text built into them. When as a self adhesive label they are removed, they exhibit the word VOID both in the removed film and the adhesive layer left behind. These substrates gain importance as there can be customization built into the labels produced with it. One can use polyester or biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) as face materials. Variety of colors, even metallization is possible. The text VOID could be replaced by the customers brand, emblem or a message, which would normally be invisible till the label is opened. Due to the versatility of things that can be done with the product, these label substrates have found widespread usage worldwide. The substrates can even be designed to work as tapes for the final outer corrugated cartons to prevent pilferage.

The labels form a very large and important part of the security label market and are an ideal choice for product authentication. The holographic foil that is an optically variable device is largely made using a polyester film base. The optical interaction of the holographic image and the human eye makes it ideal for brand promotion and security. These products reveal the holographic image when tilted in light. The image so revealed can be customized to the need of the brand owners to make the maximum impact. The hologram production involves development of complex origination process and a lot of innovation to make it difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate. Many holograms are designed such that besides offering brand authentication they also have tamper evident properties. The top polyester layer has a special coating that if the hologram is attempted to be removed, the top layer peels off leaving the hologram behind on the product [Figure 4].

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