Flexible packaging offers medical device manufacturers a number of options to suit product and use requirements. Medical device companies in need of child-resistant packaging now have more options besides rigid plastic bottles and corrugated boxes. Child-resistant sliders and zippers can now be applied to stand up pouches and flexible packaging designed to hold medical and pharmaceutical products. Such features reinforce flexible packaging’s ability to satisfy requirements for convenience and end-user safety as well product protection for e-commerce delivery, a growing demand in this market.
When it comes to healthcare packaging, these critical components must be included:
- Product protection
- Storage efficiency
- Clear labeling
- Provided instructions
With so many requirements, the easy route is to use packaging that has been a proven and trusted solution for years even if there may be better and more sustainable options.
But are we considering the end-user experience? When that end-user is a healthcare provider, the right packaging can help make product access easier and assist them on the job. But for end consumers, protecting the product and keeping it from getting in the hands of a small child are both critically important.
Because of flexible packaging’s range of benefits, we can reformat how medical and pharmaceutical products are packaged, delivered, and used with less worry.
One of the biggest hurdles of packaging is standing up to the sterilization processes, which is an absolute must in the medical device industry. Fortunately, flexible packaging holds up well under two of the most prominent sterilization agents for medical supplies: ethylene oxide (EtO) and gamma radiation.
Because of flexible packaging’s unique breathability, it lines up well with the process of flushing EtO into the packaging and pulling it back out. With gamma radiation, breathability is not needed, but you need materials that can pass through the process without becoming brittle or yellowed. Ultimately, flexible packaging checks both these boxes.
Ease of Use of Flexible Packaging
Especially in today’s fast-paced world, medical professionals are required to be efficient, and consumers need simple guidance for their products. Packaging for medical and pharmaceutical products needs to be easy to open and intuitive to the end-user. In addition, medical professionals need to access and open contents quickly and are often wearing gloves during this process.
With flexible packaging and closures, color is a helpful way to communicate to the end-user where to easily open, tear, or pull the package. Being able to see the contents in the package through transparent film is helpful and often more effective than reading a label.
Medical and pharmaceutical products need clear, distinguishable packaging. With flexible packaging, it’s easier to include large expiration dates, a table of contents, and instructions. In addition to the option for windows, adding closures and utilizing digital printing capabilities can make products stand out.
Much like a consumer uses visual cues to navigate store aisles, these same design principles should be applied to healthcare packaging. Strategic color usage and pictures or diagrams can simplify instructions to be more intuitive. Digital printing can enable more customization per product and support lot codes and other important identifiers.
Shipping and Supply Chain for Medical Devices
Healthcare products are shipped to medical facilities and households around the world. Flexible packaging takes up less space and is lighter than many rigid packages. Due to COVID-19, there has been and will continue to be a significant growth in the demand for medical supplies, including surgical masks, gloves, medicines, and other products.
The e-commerce market for healthcare, especially supplies and medicines, is experiencing a large demand as well. Per Business Wire, the market is expected to stabilize and reach $382.8 billion at a CAGR of 20.6% through 2023. With all this anticipated growth, healthcare packaging needs to accommodate a wide array of contents and withstand rigorous shipping.
Flexible packaging is highly versatile and can be tailored for any application. It provides product protection with puncture resistance and seal strength yet is lighter in weight and takes up less space than most rigid packages.
Secondary packages or cartons are often removed to save storage space in medical and pharmaceutical work environments. Internal pouches from rigid packaging often cannot be hung, and external messaging and instruction cards are now missing.
Flexible packaging can be designed to hang or stand up for easy, organized storage. Flexible packaging eliminates the need for multiple packaging components, being a more sustainable option.
Packaging for an Essential Industry
With flexible packaging, there’s no better time to consider the options and opportunities for your medical and pharmaceutical products to be packaged more effectively. Flexible packaging minimizes lead times, drives down material and equipment costs, and provides more sustainable solutions with recyclable and compostable pouches.
Start packaging development as early in your product’s development timeline as possible; the sooner, the better. It’s important to work with experienced packaging professionals who know the testing procedures and FDA requirements for medical and pharmaceutical products.