Apart from acting as a container, the primary aim of most packaging is also marketing – helping products stand out from their competitors on shelves. However, pharmaceutical packaging is slightly different. They are serious products with serious implications on people’s health. Any form of misuse can have dire consequences. Therefore, any business that manufactures or sells pharmaceuticals must adhere to strict rules and regulations regarding their packaging and labeling. Any errors can lead to product recalls, often at huge cost to the manufacturers, or even worse, human lives. In fact, an estimated 50% of drug recalls are because of errors with product labeling and artwork on the packaging, making your packaging and labeling a vital part of the manufacturing and distribution process.

Read on for some of the most important considerations while packaging and labelling pharmaceutical products.

  •  Don’t Use Bright Colors as Backgrounds When Designing Your Packaging

While bright colors are great when you want your products to stand out from a crowd, they are not suitable for pharmaceutical packaging for several reasons. Bright colors can make reading important information on the labels and packaging difficult. Think about the different scenarios where the products may be used, like in dimly lit hospital rooms or by elderly people with visual impairments and you’ll realize how bright colored backgrounds can make important information difficult to read. Plus, young children can be attracted to packaging with bright colors, a situation best avoided. Whites and light blues and grays typically work well as background colors.

  • Do Use Tamper-Proof and Anti- Counterfeiting Packaging

The medical industry is rife with counterfeit or compromised drugs. Tamper-proof packaging helps instill confidence that your products have not been altered or tampered with any form. It also reassures customers that the medicines haven’t encountered any elements that may render them ineffective or harmful. For example, prolonged exposure to air or sunlight can degrade certain chemicals. Child-resistant packaging can be a good idea too. 

Anti-counterfeiting measures can include the use of specialty inks that require special devices for verification, tamper-evident seals, and labeling.

  • Don’t Forget Cautions and Warnings

Cautions or warnings are statements that alert the users about the potential risks or hazards associated with the product. Cautions or warnings should be prominent, conspicuous, and easily noticeable on the packaging. Cautions or warnings should also be written in simple, concise, and understandable language. Some examples of cautions or warnings are:

  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • For external use only.
  • Do not use after the expiration date.
  • Consult your doctor before using this product if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any medical conditions.

Health Canada recommends that critical warnings must be highlighted and conveyed in a manner that attracts attention and creates a balance between being explicit yet concise.

  • Do Focus on Labeling

Labeling is another critical part of pharmaceutical packaging. Health Canada states that in addition to regulatory requirement, labels should contain eight key elements including:

  1. brand name
  2. non-proprietary name (proper or common name) 
  3. strength, with or without total amount per total volume
  4. dosage form
  5. route of administration (other than for oral solids, such as tablets)
  6. critical warnings
  7. population (e.g., pediatric)
  8. storage instructions

Make sure that the fonts used on labels are easy to read. Use a sans serif type style font as it is typically much easier to read that its counterparts. Make sure that the font is of a size that is legible and do not use a size less than 6 to convey important information. 

  • Don’t Use Abbreviations, Acronyms, or Symbols That Are Not Standardized or Recognized

Minimize the use of abbreviations, symbols, and dose designations as much as possible. Abbreviations, acronyms, or symbols that are not standardized or recognized can cause confusion, misunderstanding, or miscommunication of the information. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada (ISMP Canada) has a Do Not Use list that is extremely helpful for this.

  • Do Use Intuitive Packaging

Pay attention to the size and shape of your packaging. The type or format of a container often gives users a cue as to the intended route and method of administration, says Health Canada. For example, topical medicine typically comes in tubes or pots. Putting it in a vial that looks like one containing injectables can have serious repercussions.

At Accent Packaging, we understand the required pharmaceutical compliance, and we provide only state-of-the-art and high-quality packaging and labeling machines. Contact us today for packaging that reflects your brand while meeting the strictest regulations.