The History of Pharmaceutical Blister Packaging
This blog is a collaborative effort to document the development of pharmaceutical blister packaging from its inception at the beginning of the 1960s until today. Each post invites readers to comment – adding your stories, memories, and recollections to the blog and sharing insights with others. If you wish to contribute stories, adventures, or just plain information, please contact us by email.
The history is divided into four sections: blister packages, materials, and machines.
- Blister Design: The blister package section looks at design of the actual packaging, beginning with the original Push-Through-Package (PTP), designed during the launching of contraceptives in the early 1960s, and continuing through today’s Child Resistant/Senior Friendly (CR/SF), anti-counterfeit, compliant and intelligent designs.
- Materials: The section on materials begins with the development and early use of thermoformable PVC blisters sealed to aluminum foil lid stock. It traces the development of the various materials used in both the cavities or pockets and the lidding.
- Machinery: The machinery section documents the development of blister machinery, tooling, and process technology used for pharmaceutical products. It is further divided into machines that use “platen” sealing and those that use “rotary” sealing.
- Pioneers: The history of pharmaceutical blister packaging is the story of various threads (the materials, technologies, and companies behind this package) that continue to weave together into new patterns even today. It is also the story of innovative individuals.
There are a number of threads woven together in this history. The blog attempts to both document and understand the growth of “clusters” – geographic regions where suppliers came together to push technology forward. The posts document the interconnectedness of the supply chain – contract packagers, material suppliers, large and small pharmaceutical companies- and how these connections spurred innovation. It also looks at how regional markets – once critically important in the development of blister packaging – are changing today to be both global and local at the same time.
The blog seeks to document the faces and people behind the development of blister packaging and lay a foundation for continuing progress in the future.
- Push-Through-Package (PTP) consisting of a cavity or pocket and an aluminum lid. Here the presentation allowed the oral solid dose to be pushed through the foil lidding.
- Calendar Pack: the first PTP blister pack was also the first calendar pack (even though it is unclear who is the holder of that title). All three pioneer contraceptive blister packages (Anovlar®, Lyndiol® and Ortho Novum®) were PTP and included some kind of calendar mechanism to aid women in taking the contraceptive.
The development of various presentation designs illustrates two currents in blister packaging:
- Contract Packagers as a driving force for new designs and solutions
- Cooperation as a critical factor between material suppliers, machinery/tooling manufacturers, and the pharmaceutical company looking to package its product.
Early Blister Packages>>>
The materials section traces the development of these technologies, the people behind those developments, and the companies that drove the structures into the industry. Click on the Navigation bar on the right to read more about pharmaceutical blister packaging materials.
Learn more about blister materials >>>
Several threads run through this story: the type of sealing mechanism (platen or rotary) used in the machine, the national market where the machine was developed (Germany, Italy, the US, South America and the ROW (rest of the world), and whether the machine was designed for in-house use or for use by contract packagers. Even developments in blister materials impacted the development of blister machines.
The first pharmaceutical blister machines were developed in Germany. While Karl Klein did not get a patent for his VA1 machine, all indications are this is the pharmaceutical blister machine. Höfliger & Karg followed in 1964 with the Servac 150 and Uhlmann in 1965 with the KP1.
The story of these early developments follows>>>