Shipping pharmaceuticals brings with it a unique set of risks. Shipments must arrive on-time, intact and at the right temperature. When a non-medical shipment goes wrong, a customer can be disappointed. But when a pharmaceutical shipment doesn’t go as planned, it can affect the health of a patient. Yet with all the advances in pharmaceuticals, not much has changed in the last 30 years regarding the way pharmaceuticals are transported. Many are still moved from warehouse to retail stores by small regional carriers.
Lives may depend on packaging that guards the integrity of the drugs from the manufacturer to their destination. Package security is one of the most important keys to making that journey safely. Sealing the corrugated shipping carton with water-activated tape represents a critical packaging element. When combined with other critical packaging capabilities like containment and insulation, it gives shippers the peace of mind that their products will arrive safely and intact. It helps take care of two critical issues: Safeguarding outer packaging security, and maintaining the integrity of the package.
Packaging for Security
Keeping drugs secure during shipment is becoming a more and more complex issue. “As the industry moves from ‘blockbuster’ products to personalized medicine, especially customized treatments for patients with rare diseases, expensive medications with low volume and high value thefts will become the shipping norm. These shipments present extreme challenges in their intrinsic value,” points out Sue Lee, former global technical portfolio manager for World Courier.
Pharmaceutical shipments demand secure tertiary packaging to make sure they arrive in-tact. Using water-activated tape, also known as gummed paper tape, provides a layer of security evidence that informs the recipient of possible tampering in transit. Once applied, gummed paper tape bonds to corrugated cartons, creating a tamper-proof seal. A carton sealed with water-activated tape can’t be opened without leaving a broken seal.
Maintaining the Seal
Shipping pharmaceutical drug products can involve long, complex routes. Guarding against packaging breakdowns along the way is crucial, especially since many of these high-value drugs are shipped through local couriers that handle a variety of small packages.
An inadequate carton seal is one of the most common causes of damaged shipments. Weight, handling and temperature conditions can cause regular plastic packing tape to separate and threaten the integrity of the packaging during transport. Water-activated tape gives pharma shippers the advantage of a strong and securely sealed carton. Reinforced water-activated tape also offers the security of a layer of fiberglass that’s embedded within for additional strength.
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