Selecting The Right Materials For Your Primary Packaging Project

Packaging is essential, for any product that requires transportation. Packaging helps to stop damage during delivery, and it also provides all of the information required for the product to reach its intended destination. In the pharmaceutical industry, packaging is even more important. Health and drug products are often used to save lives, not to mention that shipments are sometimes targeted by criminals. If you are interested in learning more about selecting the right packaging for your pharmaceutical product, then take a look below.

Common Packaging Materials Used

The main packaging materials used in the pharmaceutical industry include plastic, glass and metal.


Glass containers are useful for acidic, or neutral applications. They can also be used for aqueous preparations and for anhydrous liquids.  Some glass containers can also contain products intended for topical or oral use.


Plastic containers over the last couple of years have rocketed in popularity. They contain many advantages over glass and metal containers, including the fact that they are cheaper, less fragile, easy to sterilise, and it is flexible.


Stainless steel and aluminium are the main metals of choice when it comes to pharmaceutical packaging. This material can be used to house pastilles, capsules, tablets, liquid products, and powders.

How to Choose the Right Pharmaceutical Packaging

If you want to choose the right pharmaceutical packaging, then you will certainly need to give a lot of thought to the type of medication you are shipping. More on that below.


Compatibility is a major safety concern when it comes to packaging material. You need to consider how the drug is going to be administered, whether it is a solid, liquid or semi-solid. You also need to assess the compatibility of the packaging material with the general formulation. Ensuring that the packaging does not have any effect on the formulation through chemical reactions is crucial. You also need to be aware of absorption, adsorption, and leaching.

Active Ingredients

Active ingredients are far more stable when they have been formulated into the right dosage form.  Decomposition begins to occur when oxygen, light, temperature, or moisture is present. Degradation can also be a natural process for some pharmaceutical products. You have to make sure that the protection required stems from the formulation. The packaging material used for photosensitive products should protect the product from light for example. This concept can also be applied to hygroscopic products.


If you want to make sure that all of your drugs are in fact affordable then you need to give some thought to how effective your packaging is. Manufacturers do not ever wish to compromise the integrity of their product, but sometimes by trying to cut cost, this ends up being the case.

Interactions Between Packaging and Medication

There truly are numerous ways that medication can interact between packaging materials. This could include the release of chemicals from various components that could be in the packaging material or even the release of subvisible particles. You also have the adsorption and absorption of components via the packaging material and chemical reactions. For this reason, it is imperative that you choose the right packaging from the get-go for all of your product needs.

Properties of LDPE, PET, and HDPE Bottles

If you want to find out more about the properties of plastic bottles, including LDPE, HDPE and PET then take a look below.


HDPE stands for High-Density Polyethylene. It is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry because it is resistant to impact, it is economical and it also provides a very good moisture barrier. The great thing about HDPE is that it is compliant with a huge number of pharmaceutical products. This can include caustics and acids, but it is not compatible with things such as solvents. It comes with an FDA food-grade too. HDPE is largely translucent, and it is also very flexible. The addition of colour can make HDPE completely opaque, and it lends itself to silk screen decoration. HDPE can give a nice level of protection when temperatures drop below freezing but it cannot be used with products that require a vacuum, or hermetic seal.


LDPE stands for Low-Density Polyethylene. It is very similar to HDPE when you look at the general composition, but it is less rigid. It is also not as chemically resistant when compared either. It is however more translucent. LDPE is used mostly in squeeze applications. It is also much more expensive when you compare it to HDPE.


PET stands for Polyethene Terephthalate.  This type of plastic is normally used to house carbonated beverages and food products, but the solid water and alcohol barrier give it a good level of chemical resistance. It should be noted that ketones and acetones will attack the barrier. It has a high tensile strength, and it is very impact-resistant too. The gas and moisture barrier helps to add additional strength, but it does not give protection against very high temperatures.

Choices and Considerations in Regards to Materials

When you look across all the types of pharmaceutical packaging that is available, including HDPE, LDPE, PVC and PP, you will soon see that the dominant materials are listed above. Plastic can be very cost-effective, and it is even possible for it to be used in place of vials, bottles, syringes, and blister packs. You can also combine it with aluminium to provide flexible packaging laminations. For blister packs and other forms of medical storage, the choice of sealant and form depends on how much the product needs to be protected from light, heat or moisture. Every material will provide a different amount of resistance, and this will affect the shelf life.

The Early Stage of the Drug Development Process

Of course, selecting the right material should always be your first priority. This is the case for the bottle closure and the bottle itself. Ideally, you should be looking into the options available at the earlier stage when developing your drug, so you know what packaging you need and so you can take into account what changes you need to make in order to keep your drug safe and protected.