Experts in Humidity & Moisture Control

What’s the Best Type of Humidity Protection for Blister Pack Medication?

Author: Simon Poulter

Blister packs are such a popular form of packaging for medications because they offer a convenient way for patients to take their pills, while also ensuring the sterility of the medication itself. This market is growing rapidly, and is expected to reach $46.74 Billion in 2030 according to Reports and Data.1

However, one of the main challenges of blister packaging is the potential for moisture damage. Moisture can permeate through the thin layer of foil, compromising the safety and efficacy of the formulation. In this post, we will explore the different types of humidity protection available for blister pack medication, and discuss which type is best for you.

The thickness of blister pack lidding that you select will be driven by: cost, barrier strength, flexibility, and puncture force. Blister foil lid-stock consists of Aluminium Foil of varying thicknesses. The most common thicknesses are 20, 25 and 30µm (µm = ‘microns’).

Foil Lid-Stock versus Foil Over-Wrap

Lid-stock’, also known as ‘blister pack lidding’, refers to a thin layer of material used to cover the plastic base tray in which the pills sit. It provides a secure closure, and serves as a barrier to protect the contents from external elements. By contrast, ‘Over-Wrap’ refers to an additional layer of packaging material, placed around the entire blister pack, to provide an extra layer of protection.

B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Blister Pack Medication – Best Type of Humidity Protection
B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – An Example of Foil Lid-Stock Material
B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Blister Pack Medication – Best Type of Humidity Protection
B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – An Example of Foil Over-Wrap on a Blister Pack

Blister Pack Medication… Foils for Regular Environments

For ICH Zones 1-3, and the majority of applications, standard blister pack lid-stock will protect your product. Standard lid-stock is comprised of aluminium foil, coated with a heat seal lacquer which is thin – and cheap. There are several different types of heat seal lacquer to choose from. Your heat seal lacquer can be designed to seal-to several different blister pack base-trays, such as those made from Polypropylene (PP), Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), or Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). Within our range of standard blister foils, there are two main types to consider: Non-Peelable (push through) Foil, and Peelable Foil.

“The thickness of blister pack lidding that you select will be driven by: cost, barrier strength, flexibility, and puncture force”

1.     Non-Peelable Lid-Stock Foil (Push Through)

Also known as ‘PTP’ (Push Through Packaging), this is a form of lid-stock foil that has improved flexibility, due to its low thickness (18-20µm). This lid-stock is made from aluminium foil, which is laminated to an inner heat seal film, instead of using a heat seal lacquer coating. PTP is a popular choice for pharmaceutical companies, because it allows each tablet to have its own sealed compartment, so that the end-user can conveniently pop each tablet out from an individual cavity, without compromising the protection of the remaining pills. With standard lid-stock PTP, the upper side of the foil can be plain, or coated/printed with a protective clear lacquer.

B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Blister Pack Medication – Best Type of Humidity Protection
B-SURE™ Barrier Foil Lid-Stock - Push Through Packaging

2.     Peelable Lid-Stock Foil

Peelable lid-stock is a type of foil that can be easily peeled-off the plastic blister tray in order to access the contents. Unlike push-through blisters, where each item is sealed, once the lid is removed from a peelable lid-stock pack, it provides full access to the contents inside.

This type of packaging is often used for products that are contained in a single cavity, for example sensitive medical products such as suture supplies, stents, and surgical blades. You may wish to consider a peelable lid-stock and single cavity blister if your product needs are fragile, and if it requires the structural protection of a rigid blister cavity.

Additionally, peelable lid-stock can also provide a tamper-evident seal, as the lid cannot be re-attached once it has been removed. However, this also means that this pack is not suitable for the packaging of several products in the same cavity, as all protection is lost for all items within the cavity once the foil is removed.

B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Blister Pack Medication – Best Type of Humidity Protection
B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Peelable Foil Lid Stock

Blister Pack Medication… Foils for Extreme Environments

If you’re looking for blister foil packaging that can stand-up to the most demanding tropical environments, the solution is: B-SURE™ Tropical Blister Packaging. It comes in two formats, BFP ENHANCED and BFP ULTIMATE. They are specifically designed to protect pharmaceutical formulations in ICH Pharma Zone 4.

B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Blister Pack Medication – Best Type of Humidity Protection

The TBP-ENHANCED seals your standard foil/PVC blister-packs in a flexible foil over-pack. Once the over-pack is opened, the remaining pills only retain the limited protection offered by the standard blister-pack materials. In most cases, TBP-ENHANCED provides sufficient protection, and a more economical solution, compared to TBP-ULTIMATE.

B-SURE™ Barrier Foil – Blister Pack Medication – Best Type of Humidity Protection

For maximum protection, TBP-ULTIMATE is the best choice. These Cold Formed Foil packs are manufactured to GMP standards, in a Class R100,000 clean room facility, and consist of a high-barrier foil under-tray and foil lid. This blister pack format offers the best defence against moisture, oxidation, and UV damage. Even after the first cavity is opened, the remaining cavities remain fully protected.

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What to Read Next…

Citations:

1: S. Shukar, F. Zahoor, K. Hayat, A. Saeed, A. H. Gillani, S. Omer, S. Hu, Z.-U.-D. Babar, Y. Fang, and C. Yang, “Drug shortage: Causes, impact, and Mitigation Strategies,” Frontiers in pharmacology, 09-Jul-2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8299364. [Accessed: 31-Mar-2023]

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