Pharmaceutical packaging faces many challenges and has to respond to legislation, good practice, demographic changes and consumer concerns. Christophe Baudry, commercial director of beauty and health care at Metsä Board, reveals what you should look for when you choose a substrate for pharmaceutical cartons.
‘Safety features, legibility, clear instructions and ease of opening are paramount when it comes to this type of packaging,’ he says. ‘The accurate communication of brand values and the sustainability of the product are important to both the manufacturer and the consumer. It is almost impossible for any material other than paperboard to be converted successfully into secondary packaging for pharmaceuticals, while still fulfilling these requirements.’
Criteria for choosing board for pharmaceutical secondary packaging
1. A smooth surface
All graphics and text must be accurately reproduced on the substrate without blurring or poor adhesion. This is especially important for smaller packs. A smooth surface is the overriding requirement of board, one which can cope with a variety of printing and embellishment techniques. A fully coated folding boxboard provides the best results. Its specially developed surface enables satisfactory transfer and adherence of finishes, such as foiling, and greater accuracy for printed codes.
2. High brightness
This desirable attribute provides a clean and pure appearance, and contributes to the colour gamut and accuracy of printed colours. Brightness starts with the pulp. Modern pulps, such as bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp, are naturally brighter.
3. Good formation
This property contributes to accurate printing. It is also vital for the addition of Braille on a carton. State-of-the-art pulp processing technology can ensure the even distribution of fibres in the board, providing greater strength and consistency to the substrate.
The right formulation ensures the dust-free performance of board during sheet cutting, printing and converting processes. Dust compromises hygiene in production facilities and can place sensitive products at risk.
Consider boards manufactured from fresh forest fibres as they are clean by nature, have low microbe levels and are of a known composition. There is also no risk of the migration of unwanted substances. Buyers should always ask whether their board manufacturer knows the origin of its raw materials, if they can be traced and meet all relevant standards.
Board may fade, especially if it’s exposed to daylight. Cartons made from bleached paper pulp fibres suffer gradual diminishing of brightness over time, particularly those with large unprinted areas. Fading can also affect the consumer’s confidence in a product’s shelf life.
Major improvements have been achieved in lightweighting over the past few years. Boards manufactured in this way can produce over 30 percent more cartons per tonne than conventional alternatives, without loss of stiffness. Paperboard is also renewable, if sourced from a credible, certified supplier. Recyclability continues to grow in importance as we move towards the goal of a circular economy, so consider this aspect during the design stage.
All things considered
The interior of the pack also requires attention i.e. the shade on the outside should match that on the inside. Look for a fully bleached lightweight liner made from fresh forest fibres, which will ensure purity and high whiteness with minimal additional weight.
Metsä Board’s materials are often used to manufacture cartons for prescription medicines and OTCs, nutraceuticals, herbal medicines, and hygiene and body care products. The Avanta Prima, Carta Solida and Simcote substrates are suited to these types of cartons. The Carta Integra and Elega boards are also ideal.