Usability of pharmaceutical packaging: aluminium tubes as a patient-friendly solution

Let’s face it: the world of pharma has made huge progress in the last few years. Just think of the great effort made globally to mitigate the Covid-19 health emergency. However, despite these progress, there is no real interest in the evolution and research of pharmaceutical packaging that meets patient needs.

It is true that pharmaceutical production is subject to strict regulatory requirements before launching on the market. But this doesn’t justify the lack of interest in finding packaging that not only fits the drug but also considers patients and their carers.

Redesign pharmaceutical packaging from the patient’ perspective

We live in a world where everything is customised, where every product is tailor-made for us, shaped to our desires and designed by studying thoroughly how, why and in what context they are used. 

Even advertising (both traditional and on the web) is adapted to us as users, even trying to respond to latent needs, satisfying desires we didn’t even think we had.

But has the packaging world followed this evolution?

It depends on the industry: food and cosmetics packaging, for example, are  going through a period of deep changes. Especially for products such as foundations and blushes: many cosmetic companies now offer recyclable or reusable packaging solutions, as they have understood and accepted the needs of an increasingly aware consumer who is attentive to sustainability and has adopted an anti-waste approach over the years. 

While, for the pharma world, we are only at the beginning.

Pharmaceutical packaging is exclusively designed to meet precise standards, such as fast production processes. The final consumer and his or her needs have therefore taken a back seat: pharmaceutical packaging is cold, unidentifiable, lacking in distinctive features and above all not very practical. Very few packaging promote patient involvement (including the emotional one) or make their use easier in the case of prolonged use. In addition, it is no longer possible to ignore how crucial packaging is to the success of the therapeutic partnership between patient and healthcare provider. No one can be as involved in the disease and its consequences as the patient: proposing packaging that allows for their empowerment and creates a relationship of trust between the two parties has a positive impact – both on the therapy and on the patient’s psychological well-being. 

Critical issues in pharmaceutical packaging

But what exactly do we mean by involving the patient, including emotionally? Think of children: parents know how complicated it is to give medication to children, especially those with disabilities. Not to mention the elderly who have motor or visual difficulties and often have to juggle several medications, or, more generally, patients with reduced mobility: it is easy to see how important it is to offer a packaging solution tailored to their specific needs

Let’s face it: how many times have you had problems opening a syrup or unscrewing a tube of ointment? How many times have you risked accidentally injuring yourself by applying a specific stye medication? Think of the patients above and you will understand how important it is to turn the concept of pharmaceutical packaging on its head and readjust it.

Is the aluminium tube with soft nozzle the really user-friendly solution?

Of course, some pharmaceutical companies have already implemented some small developments in this respect: some syrups have been repackaged in single-serving sachets, which are much more convenient to carry around and to take when a glass or spoon is not at hand. Some ointments come in a smaller tube size (handbag size) and more and more manufacturers are choosing polyethylene blister packs rather than PVC.

They are also starting to wink at digital innovations, with the printing of a QRCode on the secondary packaging, which provides more information on dosage, side effects and insights into the pathology concerned. 

But there is still a long way to go.

At Favia we are well aware that listening and understanding the customer’s needs are the main focus of our collaboration. And this is exactly how our aluminium tube with soft nozzle came about, in response to the need for accurate yet delicate ophthalmic packaging: thanks to the soft nozzle, the skin is not irritated and there is no risk of injury. It can also be made in different colours to help the patient to find the right product class.

The shrunk sleeve in Pvc on the nozzle also makes this a perfect solution for counterfeiting: This device, which tightly joints together the nozzle to the cap, only breaks the first time it is opened showing possible tampering. Its application is 100% controlled during production using automated inspection systems that guarantee its presence and efficiency.

Smart packaging: digital innovation for patients

Especially for the pharma world, however, we didn’t want to stop there. The experience gained over the years pushed us to go further, looking for something that would make packaging (especially pharmaceutical one) even more patient and caregiver oriented.

Thus our Smart Aluminium Tube was born, a tube on which is printed an invisible code, detectable only through a mobile app, which allows access to additional information on the drug (dosage, undesirable effects) or on the pathology of interest, with extra content that the user can enjoy directly from their smartphone. 

It is different from a QRCode, already in use by some pharmaceutical companies: this invisible code can be read even if the tube is rolled up or crushed. It is a good alternative to the package leaflet, which is often lost or difficult to read.

This perfectly meets the needs of family and caregivers, providing them with additional tools for the care and support of the patient, especially in case of chronic diseases.

Packaging 2.0 and the aluminium tube with soft nozzle are the innovations we will be presenting at the 2021 edition of CPhI Worldwide, which will be held in Milan from 9 to 11 November. If you would like to see our tubes and talk to us about your project, book an appointment at our stand by sending an email to We look forward to seeing you at the Fiera di Milano at stand 6C83!

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