Amplifying Role of Packaging in the Pharmaceutical Sector

The importance of pharmaceutical packaging cannot be understated, especially during the time when the disease outbreaks are becoming increasingly more frequent. Approximately 7,000 signals of potential outbreak occur every month, which leads to 30 investigations, 300 follow-ups, and 10 risk assessment (source: World Health Organization – WHO). Moreover 12,012 outbreaks, cumulatively causing 40 million cases globally have been recorded between 1930 and 2013 (source: WHO). Simultaneously, 48 new drugs were drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019, following 59 drugs in the previous year. The number of new drugs approved has grown at a CAGR of 9.62% between 2010 and 2019.

Number of Drug Approvals by the FDA – USA

pharmaceutical packaging market

Source: FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

As such, the role of pharmaceutical packaging has been amplified in recent decades in order to ensure that the quality of the medicines is maintained while also providing information for the proper dosage and storage information. Furthermore, continuous evaluation of packaging guidelines has been instrumental in driving the innovation, with the pharmaceutical packaging market size estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.29% to reach US$110.654 billion in 2025 from US$81.898 billion in 2019

Focus on Blister Packs

Pharmaceuticals require speedy and reliable packaging solutions that ensure quality along with the combination of being tamper-proof while also ensuring that the required information is easily visible to the customer. The demand for blister packs has been particularly supplemented by the simultaneous increase in the healthcare industry. In addition, the packaging companies are innovatively strategizing in order to take advantage of the growing revenue generation opportunity while simultaneously improving their market position. In October 2018, Merck – as a part of the €1 billion investment plan aimed at transforming its Darmstadt site, invested approx. 63 million Euros that deal specifically with the packaging of the company’s pharma products. Similarly, in July 2017, Bilcare Research, one of the leading manufacturers of blister packaging and shrink film solution, entered into a partnership with Linerpac & Unipac de Mexico SA de CV according to which Bilcare’s blister and shrink sleeves film will be available in Mexico through Linterpac.

Simultaneously, the popularity of cold form-based blister packs has been increasing. Cold-formed packages utilize a high proportion of packaging material in comparison to the thermoform packaging technology which results in effective protection against the light, moisture, and gases to the product. The conventionally used films for manufacturing cold form blister packages are PVC and Bi-axially Oriented Polyamide (BOPA). The growing focus on peel through and child & adult resistance packaging for medicines to ensure that it meets the required necessary standards has been instrumental in boosting the demand for blister packaging solutions based on cold-form technology. Moreover, it also allows surface and reverse printing which tends to improve the aesthetic appeal to the consumer, thus, leading to its growing popularity as a packaging technology. As a result, players such as Constantia Flexibles, Amcor, Essentra, Uflex, and others are introducing cold-formed blister foils that provide anti-counterfeiting options which are regulatory and pharma GMP compliant. Also, increased focus towards introducing new material for blister forming such as Alu-Alu blister foils is further accelerating the cold-formed blister film market growth. Furthermore, the rising spending on research and development in Alu-Alu blister foil manufacturing is expected to boost the adoption of cold-form based blister packs. In December 2018, FlexFilms was granted the United States patent for formable films that include BOPET layers which are used in Alu Alu blister packaging.

However, the thermoformed packs are still the most prevalent form of blister packaging that is currently used globally as the thermoformed packaging technology is relatively cost-effective and has the ability to perform packaging process more quickly than the cold-form method. Moreover, manufacturers are continuously working towards introducing enhanced thermoform films. For instance, in February 2019, Honeywell has expanded in the Aclar film range, a thermoformable barrier film for pharmaceutical packaging in order to address the industry's need for faster production and delivery by extending product shelf life and providing advanced barrier protection.

Asia Pacific to Drive the Revenue Generation Opportunity

China is the most populated country in the world and with the rise in the proportion of the geriatric population in the country, there is an increasing investment in the pharmaceutical industry which is expected to propel the market growth opportunities. According to the World Bank, health spending in China would increase in real terms from 3.5 trillion Yuan in 2014 to 15.8 trillion Yuan in 2035, an increase of 8.4 percent per year. Moreover, increasing investment by market players through product launches in the country is also anticipated to drive the growth of the market during the forecast period. For instance, in March 2019, Romaco China opens an 840 sq meter processing laboratory for solid pharmaceuticals, which is fitted with latest generation laboratory equipment like Romaco Noack NBP 950 that is a blister machine for pharmaceutical applications. Similarly, in India, expanding the pharmaceutical industry and rising government initiative by making amendments in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow in the pharmaceutical industry is anticipated to boost the pharmaceutical packaging market. For instance, the allocation to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare by the Government of India has increased by 13.1 percent to US$ 8.98 billion in Union Budget 2019-20.  Moreover, the Government of India also revealed: “Pharma Vision 2020” aimed at making India a global leader in drug manufacture. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact the market in 2020 as the manufacturing capacity was operating at a reduced capacity. The medicines sales in May 2020 reached just 60% of the routine target in India (source: Secretary – All India Organization of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD). Moreover, the labor shortage and supply chain disruption caused by the government’s lockdown measures in order to contain the spread of the virus led to firms reducing their output, with domestic manufacturing companies operating at 40%-50% capacity. However, it is anticipated that the production will resume to full scale in 2021, with the recovery of an industry projected to initiate in the second half of 2020. 


Siddharth David is a Senior Market Research Analyst at Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence LLP. Siddharth’s expertise lies in offering predictive analysis and an all-inclusive outlook of different industry verticals from both the macro and micro point of view, with the special knack in market sizing and delivering key strategic insights. To read more articles by him, and for more information regarding multiple global markets, visit