Packaging of Medicines

By Hameed, Fazal | Economic Review, August 1993 | Go to article overview

Packaging of Medicines


Hameed, Fazal, Economic Review


The packaging of medicines, in substandards containers, in scant disregard to human life, is a glaring example of apathy and callousness of the pharmaceutical companies and our health.

Specifically, the issue of packing injectable medicines in substandard vails, deserves our immediate attention. Injectable medicines are packed mostly in two different ways, either in ampoules or vials. Ampoules are for once-only use and after extracting the contents for injection, are discarded. On the other hand vials are normally for multiple use, and are as such used for more than once. This multiple use of vials is, at best, fraught with hazards. There are various reasons as to why the vials pose a serious health danger as discussed below:

1. Ampoules are made from a special glass which conforms to various international standards i.e. DIN, USP etc. The glass used for ampoule is USP Type-I, neutral glass. This type of glass is non-reacting i.e. it does not react with the solution inside. Ampoules are available in clear and amber (coloured) type. The amber ampoule has the added property of shielding the contained solution from light, thus protecting the photo-sensitive solutions. The glass from which these ampoules are manufactured in the form of long tubes. These tubes are imported or procured from a local manufacturer in Karachi. In both instances, it is of the international specification and does not react with medicinal solution. On the other hand, the vials which are used are of substandard glass and do not conform to any international standard. Most of the pharmaceutical companies, are using these substandard vials, the reason being that tubular vial manufactured from USP Type-I neutral glass tubes are expensive. To curtail their expenses, unethical companies, and unfortunately there are quite a few, resort to buying substandard vials. The liquid medicine contained in these vials starts reacting with inferior substandard glass and the unsuspecting patients, who are getting these injections, are unaware, that they are not only getting an injection of dubious therapeutic efficacy, but also getting a healthy dose of dissolved glass. …

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