Unpacking Containment Challenges
Primary packaging shouldn’t be a barrier to medicine use
Andrea Taglini | | Quick Read
Primary packaging is more than containment for drug products; it helps bridge the gap between the consumer and manufacturer – providing product stability and helping to prevent the misuse of medicines. With such an important role, getting it right is essential! More often than not, however, consumers from niche demographics can struggle to correctly open the packaging – affecting their adherence and their views of the developers behind products.
“Think of the challenges that older adults who experience a loss of manual dexterity and sight loss often contend with. They can find it virtually impossible to open packaging independently,” says Andrea Taglini, Chief Executive Officer at Easysnap Technology S.r.l., a company focused on easy-access packaging solutions. “If we want to be inclusive of all patients, we must, as an industry, explore and develop alternative packaging options.”
With a view to alleviating some of the challenges vulnerable patients experience, Easysnap Technology has developed Easysnap, a single-dose pack for liquid formulations that can be opened with one hand. Taglini says, “Using the pack is quite simple. Lids don’t need to be unscrewed and packaging doesn’t have to be peeled back. The patient can fold the pack in half for the full dose to be released.” With more conventional unit dose packaging, Taglini argues, patients may need a secondary device, with some turning to dangerous kitchen utensils like knives for help. “It’s not fair to isolate and exclude patients from engaging with their own treatment,” he says. “Regardless of age or able-bodiedness, patients shouldn’t have to struggle to take medicines.”
But given that the Easysnap packaging only requires patients to squeeze its two ends together to release a pharmaceutical formulation, questions arise as to whether the pack is safe for use around other vulnerable groups, such as children. “The pack requires the user to fold until it reaches a 90° angle before the product is released. Therefore, it is resistant to accidental opening,” Taglini says.
But is this enough? The company’s CEO went on to explain that, though it is important to have easy access to the product within the primary pack, secondary packaging also plays a role in protecting both the patient and the product. “The biggest challenge in product development is ensuring that the unit dose isn’t overly complicated to use. Secondary packaging can help prevent at-risk patients from accessing the product and keep their caregivers well-informed as to how medicines should and can be used.”
These issues are crucial, but Taglini is interested in sustainability, too. Currently, the packs rely on an aluminium lining to help protect the liquid formulation within them, but use polymers such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) for their exterior. Though PP is widely recycled, PE is considered a non-biodegradable product. The company is exploring how alternative packaging materials can be integrated into its design.
“One of our main goals is to develop a greener product development model and we ensure that we adhere to ISO standards on environmental protection,” Taglini says. “We’ve also received investment from the EU that will help us to develop packaging produced with environmentally safe materials.”