Packaging Innovation
Improving pharmaceutical packaging
September 11, 2015

Pharmaceutical packaging: a matter of life and death

It is a known fact among doctors that patients are more likely to survive severe trauma if they receive treatment within one hour. Doctors refer to this crucial period of time as ‘the golden hour’. The slightest second can determine the difference between life and death, even something as straightforward as pharmaceutical packaging design can pose a threat to efficient treatment.

The wrong treatment

Research teams worldwide are constantly endeavouring to improve the packaging and instructions of vital medicines. Among them are the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG). They asked over 600 caregivers in developing countries to give their opinion on the packaging design for Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) which is used to treat dehydration in infants as a result of diarrhea. Apparently, a considerable number of caregivers found the instructions for administration to be so unclear that it deterred them from using the salts or caused them to administer the salts incorrectly. As a result, numerous patients have died while their death could have easily been avoided.

Improving pharmaceutical packaging

In the light of CHAI and WMG’s research results, the manufacturers of ORS are currently working on a new packaging design. In the near future, the ORS sachets will not only be more appealing to the eye but also feature clear and concise instructions with informative pictures, which will likely save countless young lives in developing countries. However, CHAI and WMG are aware that there is still much work to be done to tune medical packaging design to the needs of developing countries and improve the user-friendliness of emergency medicine in general. They hope that their research will act as a stepping stone for pharmaceutical companies worldwide to look into the efficiency of their packaging design and adapt it where necessary.   Inspired by