Pharmaceutical Packaging (or Medicine Packaging): What You Need to Know



About Pharmaceutical Packaging / Medicine Packaging

Medicinal drugs are a vital need in everyone’s lives. Either to ease the pain of minor ailments or to provide relief from complicated diseases, medicinal drugs have a routine use without which most people would not be able to survive. To ensure that objects of such importance reach their consumers safely, they need to be packaged and delivered through safe and enduring means.

Medicine packaging, also known as Pharmaceutical Packaging, refers to the packaging that medicines are encased in. While seen as a mundane part of our life, medicine packaging is crucial in providing users with salient features of the drugs they need, such as their shelf life, application, and features. Medicine packaging has essential information about the drug which can make identification easier for the customers. It also warrants the drug’s safety, ensuring that weather, germs, and other external factors don’t impact it directly. Each drug needs clear demarcation from the rest which makes medicine packaging becomes essential.

It’s safe to say that medicine/pharmaceutical packaging is a huge part of the pharma industry. Because of its vitality, there are various types of packaging that differs based on the kind of drug that needs to be packaged. This article will highlight the tiers of pharmaceutical packaging and the types they come in.


Types of Pharmaceutical Packaging

There are three kinds of pharmaceutical packaging, each relating to different levels of how the drug is contained.

Types of pharmaceutical packaging:

  1. Primary packaging
  2. Secondary packaging
  3. Tertiary packaging


Primary Packaging

Pharmaceutical packaging differs based on the type of drug that needs to be packaged. Primary packaging refers to the immediate packaging layer in which the medicine is encased, such as the container and the box. Primary packaging deals with ensuring the safety of the drug. There are various kinds of primary pharmaceutical packaging, each for different compositions of drugs. Described below are some of the most common types of primary pharmaceutical packaging.

1. Vials

A vial is a small glass, plastic vessel, or bottle often used to store medication as liquids, powders, or capsules.

2. Bottles

Bottles are made from plastic or glass for large amounts of liquid or powder drugs.

3. Blister Packs

A blister pack packages several capsules or tablets.

4. Sachets

Sachets are small bags or pouches which contain medicines for one-time use. They are made of a unique material that can be easily torn by hand.

5. Pre-filled Syringes

Pre-filled syringes package liquid drugs of a specific quantity of the drug. They are primarily used for single-dose medicines.

6. Ampoules

An ampoule is a small sealed vial that is used to contain pharmaceuticals that need to be protected from air and contaminants. They are used mainly for single-dose medicines.


Primary packaging is essential in ensuring the drug remains safe from external factors that might negatively impact its potency and effect. Faulty primary packaging may lead to the medicine contacting contaminants and having hazardous impacts on the user. Therefore, this kind of packaging should be catered with high precision.

Moreover, primary packaging informs the user about the vital details of the drug. The packaging will contain necessary information such as drug’s identification, shelf life, application and features.


Secondary Packaging

After primary packaging, medicine is packaged in second packaging. This packaging involves casing the primarily packaged medication in large quantities. Secondary packaging is suitable for brand exposure as the brand name is more visible. This packaging type also makes handling drugs easier for retailers, since it compacts large quantities of drugs into distinct components.

Secondary packaging doesn’t usually contain the precise details of the drug it carries. Instead of information, this kind of packaging typically showcases the name of the brand that produced the drug.

Boxes and cartons are the most common type of secondary packaging. They are large containers, usually made of cardboard, that group primary packaged drugs and further protect and label the drug product.


Tertiary Packaging

This type of packaging is usually not seen by the consumers since it’s just an added protection layer to the secondary packaging. It’s most commonly used to transport goods in bulk to the respective destination with complete security and safety. When the drugs need to be transported, tertiary packing adds an external layer of protection for the pharmaceutical and its packaging. This packaging often comes in the shape of barrels and containers as they provide the most protection from the harsh conditions of transport. Tertiary packaging doesn’t usually promote the brand or drug name as its primary purpose is to provide protection during transportation.


Materials Used in Pharmaceutical Packaging

The material used in pharmaceutical packaging can significantly impact the quality of the drug and its protection from the external environment.


Primary Packaging


Glass is a tough and durable substance that comes in various shapes and sizes. It guarantees a low risk of interaction with external substances.


Plastic is a lightweight substance that doesn’t break easily, which provides adequate protection and a long shelf-life for the drug.


Secondary Packaging


Not only is cardboard recyclable, but it also has extreme durability and strength, making it an effective material for packaging primary packaged drugs. Cardboard can withstand harsh conditions of vehicles such as trains and airplanes, making them ideal for tertiary packaging.


Similar to cardboard, paperboard has excellent print performance and increasing brand exposure. Paperboard is also a cost-effective option for producers.


Tertiary Packaging

Wood Pallets

Wood pallets are cheap and durable for transporting large quantities of boxes or cartons.

Shrink Wrap

Shrink wrap offers excellent protection from contaminants and ensures that the packaging is not affected by external conditions, as it’s made from plastic. This highly durable material is difficult to permeate.



Pharmaceutical packaging is critical in ensuring the safety of the drug you produce. While it keeps the drug protected from contaminants, it can also be helpful in promoting your brand image and making the drug more visible to users and retailers. SIP Printing, with an experience of over 30 years, has been forefront in producing optimal packaging for pharmaceuticals. Feel free to contact us for a consultation!