If manufacturers, suppliers, physicians, and pharmacists are doing their job well then odds are that the common person is not putting much thought into the bottle that contains their medication or the blister packages that store their prescription. The ultimate goal of packaging solutions is to create the ideal vessel for transportation and use of the end product, so the end user never needs to worry about it.
It needs to provide protection from exposure or contamination. It needs to preserve the quality of the product for its entire shelf life. It needs to comply with the regulations set out by the food and drug administration (FDA). It needs to offer ease of use for the end user, while also being child resistant. All these factors make it challenging for pharmaceutical packaging products, but thanks to years of development and innovation, Ascend Packaging is able to aid manufacturers in checking all these goals off their list.
The Legacy of Pharmaceutical Packaging
Drawbacks of Stoneware Containers
When we go back to before tamper-evident packaging design, pharmaceutical companies, and FDA guidelines, we see the earliest vessels for medicine or pharmaceuticals were made from what was readily available. The first “packaging” solutions were typically stone jars or containers. Ultimately, they made for mediocre storage, but this was still one of the best early options people had available.
The porous nature of stoneware meant that materials could seep out or become absorbed into the surface of the stone.
- Difficult to Craft
In this period, stoneware was typically crafted by hand and with simple tools. It was time and labor intensive.
Stone is a durable material, but once it’s been crafted, it becomes more likely to break upon being dropped or transported roughly.
It was nearly impossible to craft identical containers from stoneware. This reduced the chance of uniformity in manufacturing.
Advantages of Glassware Containers
By the early 17th century, glassware began to replace stoneware containers. Glass was becoming more readily available for many people. Glass bottles for drug products, such as medicine and pharmaceuticals, were expensive to produce on a mass scale at first. They were still an improvement over stone because glass offered some important new features.
Glass was still breakable, but it offered resilient protection for shelf storage and travel with distribution.
Walls of glass prevented exposure to outside contaminants or moisture. This meant a stronger product and a longer shelf life.
Glass was available in various colors and could be crafted by glass blowers to fit multiple applications.
At first, glass was expensive to produce, but eventually there were innovations with glass-blowing machines. These machines meant glass bottles could be produced quickly, en masse with high uniformity and at a lower price point.
For exceptional packaging equipment and unmatched support, reach out to Ascend Packaging today.
Plastic Packaging Solutions Were Not a Homerun at First
The next obvious innovation in pharmaceutical packaging would likely be plastics, but plastics were not an overnight success for packaging services. Plastics were expensive to produce and awkward to use. It took some time for the industrial processes to catch up and make plastic less costly to produce and more flexible for daily use. Once they overcame those hurdles, plastic became the most popular option in pharmaceutical packaging. Today, plastic bottles and other packaging are everywhere in the pharmaceutical field.
Benefits of Plastic Packaging
Plastics do not shatter or crack the way stone or glass would. Plastic bottles opened new options in transportation and distribution thanks to their durability in transit.
- Custom Designs
It eventually became inexpensive to produce plastic containers in all shapes and sizes to match your brand, dosage size, or color design.
- Child-Safe Options
Plastic bottles and their child-resistant lids made medicine safer and thus more accessible. It was now safe to store medicine without worry.
- Temperature Resistant
Plastic will, of course, melt under extreme temperatures, but it stands up to most forms of heat, is impermeable to water when the seal is intact, and resists minor impacts.
Plastic was an exceptional step forward in user-friendly packaging, affordability of production, and flexible applications. The next great challenge in pharmaceutical packaging solutions would be how to meet worldwide demand. Ascend Packaging was and continues to be one of the foremost providers of solutions in that area. However, before we get into our legacy and the modern age of pharmaceutical packaging, we must take a brief diversion into the history of blister packaging.
Blister Packaging Made Life Easier for Pharmaceutical Packaging Professionals
The revolutionary, yet simple innovation of blister packaging was that it offered a way for physicians and pharmacists to control and monitor dosage in a more straightforward way than ever before. Blister packs dramatically reduce the chance of dispensing errors when an exact number of pre-packaged tablets can be handed to the patient.
The rise of popularity for blister packaging primarily owes itself to the increased distribution of the oral contraceptive pill for women in the ‘60s. The design of the blister pack made it easy for them to track their dosage and keep up with their intake.
Blister packs also offer a foolproof way for patients to track their intake and how much longer their course of treatment will be. These packs offer impressive durability and cost-effective production costs. Blister packaging provides clear evidence of any tampering if a seal is broken or a tablet is missing from the pack. This increases safety for the patient and compliance for the manufacturer.
Ascend Packaging Overcoming the Hurdles of Mass Production and Quality Control
The pharmaceutical packaging industry has a long history of innovation and adaptation. Different packaging companies have created multiple solutions to overcome the challenges in the industry to create the best experience for the pharmacist, physicians, and the end user. The FDA guidelines for pharmaceutical packaging add another layer to the process.
So, when you have to satisfy all of these variables and still deliver a quality product under a tight timeline, what can you do? You have to turn to an experienced service provider who’s been around long enough to see and participate in the evolution of the pharmaceutical packaging industry.
An Ascend Packaging Timeline
For over 50 years now, Ascend Packaging has led the pharmaceutical packaging industry. Here is a rough timeline of some of the most significant events in our company’s history.
- 1970: The company was founded
- 2000: Joel Gray became President
- 2001: We partnered with Sepha
- 2004: Sepha launched the BlisterScan, which was their first non-destructive leak inspection system
- 2007: We design and sell our first SureFill 300 Slat Filler
- 2008: We partnered with Argentecnica (formerly MAC)
- 2011: We expanded our facility for larger showroom and new conference room
- 2012: We partnered with Sky Softgel
- 2013: We received patent for the SureClean conveyor design
- 2016: We re-branded as Ascend Packaging Systems
- 2021: We re-branded as Ascend Packaging Systems
Ensuring Quality, Accuracy, Precision, and Compliance
We provide pharmaceutical packaging machinery for GMP applications. The customers who partner with us get to take advantage of our years of experience in the industry and our extensive library of equipment and machinery. We offer high-speed bottling machines and options like automated and semi-automatic blister machines, but we also have entire product lines dedicated to equipment for controlling quality, verifying accuracy and precision, and maintaining compliance. Equipment like:
- Bottle Count Verification
This device makes it simple to verify your bottle counts with speed and no second guessing.
- Electronic Counter Bottling Machines
This is a continuous counting system for high-speed productions. It comes with the memory capabilities to store up to 100 products.
- Non-Destructive Leak Testing
Our leak testers guarantee the integrity of your seals for bottles, blister packs, and nearly all other types of packaging.
Our Mission as Suppliers of Pharmaceutical Packaging Machinery
Our company has grown and changed along with the pharmaceutical packaging industry over the years. We developed lasting partnerships with customers and were there to help overcome the various challenges they’ve faced. We’ll make it easier for you to maintain your timelines. Our expertise keeps compliance simple and protects your operations. We’re an industry-leading supplier, and we’re prepared to be your competitive advantage in your market.
To learn more about us and our capabilities, contact Ascend Packaging today.
Ascend Packaging Systems LLC.
3885 Industrial Avenue
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008