Design considerations for pharmaceutical packaging

Patient safety can be improved with thoughtfully designed pharmaceutical packaging. In fact, effective medical packaging is just one way to address some of the more pressing safety challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry.

Thinking more carefully about blister packaging and secondary packaging (the outer package) can decrease the risks associated with medication error. Ensuring high visibility and clear labelling on all pharma products is key to tackling this issue.

There are key factors that can substantially improve upon the graphic design techniques used on medical packaging. These factors can also be taken into consideration when designing other healthcare packaging hardware, like tablet bottles and patient information leaflets.

Checklist for designing secondary pharma packaging:

  • Ensure name of medication and strength are not obscured
  • Consistency between dispensing label and product name
  • To avoid confusion between brand name and the name of the medicine itself, make sure the general medicine name is visible
  • Clearly distinguish between different medicines with similar names, and different strengths of the same medicine
  • Use a bold typeface so it can be easily read, and blank surrounding space so that the eye is drawn to important information

There are also guidelines you can follow when using colour to differentiate between different medical products. Although important, colour shouldn’t be a primary concern when designing packaging as it can be interpreted differently in different lights or by people with conflicting perceptions. This can result in errors, therefore text is still the most important consideration.

When using colour it’s advisable to use more than one colour to help patients and healthcare workers distinguish between medicines. It’s also recommended that instead of using colour coding, all packaging uses colour differentiation, to make elements on packaging stand out. This can also help patients and healthcare providers to quickly determine different strengths of a single medicine, or between medicines with similar sounding or spelled names.

Here at Hague we are experts in designing and producing pharmaceutical packaging. We understand the importance of meeting the EU’s serialisation and verification requirements for medicines, and offer products and solutions including multi-component security labels, tamper-evident labels, 3D holograms and Track and Trace.