There is an ongoing challenge for drug packaging. The green economy requires the use of recyclable and easily disposable materials and therefore the pharmaceutical packs must adapt and abandon the path so far. The policies decided at international level to reduce the pollution of the planet concern all sectors of life and human activities and therefore do not exclude the pharmaceutical sector. The main producers are adapting to new requirements and the packaging of pharmaceutical products are made using recyclable materials such us plastic, paper, glass and aluminum.


The packaging for medicines must meet very specific and important requirements to ensure that the packaging:

  1. do not contaminate or alter the drug
  2. protect the content
  3. be easily manoeuvrable to access the medicine
  4. is hardly tampered with

Most used materials

According to the survey carried out by the Italian packaging institute and relative to 2017, the classification of the materials used for the primary packaging sees aluminum at the first place with 60.7% of the total, followed by glass (20.2%), plastic (18.8%) and paper (0.2%).

The secondary packaging is made of cardboard, those for transport are made of various materials (for example cardboard, plastic film). The liars, which are part of the packaging of the medicine, are made of paper.

Market data

In 2017, about 50,000 tons of primary packaging were produced in Italy for ethical and OTC drugs sold in pharmacies. Considering also the secondary packaging we reach a final total of about 90,000 tons. With respect to the previous year, 2016, there was a decline of 1%, but these are still very important figures considering the need for disposal and recycling of materials.

In the period 2000-2017 there was an average annual increase of about 1.4% of the number of packages produced.

The packaging of a drug must be able to adequately protect the content but at the same time must guarantee a simple and functional use by users. The drug market knows no crisis. According to the EvaluatePharma forecasts, the global value of the medicines will exceed the trillion dollars by 2024 with an annual growth rate of over 6%.