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Why Print Inspection Is Key to Pharmaceutical Packaging Quality Control

March 5, 2021

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation related to pharmaceuticals and other medical products made it hard for Americans to access the protection they deserved. But while there's a lot we're still learning about the novel coronavirus, something we already know is that quality control is crucial in pharmaceutical packaging.

Whether in reference to prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs, packaging firms and pharmaceutical labeling companies have an obligation to display accurate information in order to safeguard the public at large. In many instances, this comes down to quality control. To ensure both legibility and maintenance of quality, print inspection is often cited as a crucial aspect of best practices for pharmaceutical labeling and packaging companies. Being able to offer 100% print inspection subsequently alleviates the risk of errors that could otherwise jeopardize public safety and pharmaceutical brand perception.

Let's take a closer look at the issue of quality control in pharmaceutical packaging, the role that print inspection plays, and how important it is to choose a provider of pharmaceutical labeling and packaging that makes 100% print inspection an operational priority.

Why Quality Control Matters in Pharmaceutical Packaging

First, let's briefly discuss an issue with which you might already be familiar: quality control. Of course, quality control is essential with any type of pharmaceutical product. If, for example, a medication or vaccine is stored in a way that doesn't align with optimal conditions, the product itself could quickly lose potency and become unusable. Likewise, a medication that has become contaminated during the manufacturing process could cause harm to the public and would need to be properly discarded before it ends up in the hands of consumers. In both of these cases, quality control measures are vital in order to protect both the public and the companies involved in manufacturing and distribution.

But aside from quality control of the product itself, it's also crucial to ensure quality control of pharmaceutical packaging and labeling. According to a report published by the Institute of Medicine, labeling and packaging errors are the cause of 33% of all medication errors -- and a staggering 30% of fatalities resulting from medication errors. In other words, the product itself could be perfectly safe to use; if the packaging or labeling contains some sort of error, however, the medication could cause injury or even death to an individual.

Therefore, packaging and labeling quality control of pharmaceutical products must be a top priority for all parties involved in manufacturing and distribution. Ultimately, ensuring that your pharmaceutical products are safe to bring to market relies on working with a packaging and labeling company that can guarantee compliance and safety as part of their processes.

The Role of Print Inspection in Maintaining Quality Control

There are certainly a number of ways that packaging and labeling companies can address quality control. But arguably, 100% print inspection is one of the most comprehensive and most compelling.

Until recently, pharmaceutical companies might have had to perform a manual inspection of their packaging and labeling themselves. Even if they were able to proof their product packaging and labeling through digital means, they might still rely on human eyes to catch problems before these items are physically printed. Unfortunately, the adage "to err is human" couldn't be truer here -- and it can have huge consequences when these mistakes, however minor, aren't caught in time.

However, technology has now advanced to the point where we now have automated options for inspecting print runs for pharmaceutical packaging and labeling. Pharmaceutical companies can now rely on advanced computer systems that can detect even minuscule defects in packaging and labeling -- from bar code errors to missing asterisks on display panels -- to ensure compliance, accuracy, and safety.

While this doesn't mean that the need for manual proofing will suddenly disappear, it does mean that pharmaceutical manufacturers and label designers can get more support than they've ever had before. With these kinds of automated 100% print inspection systems, critical errors can be detected before labels and packaging materials are actually printed. This can ultimately save companies an impressive amount of time and money, as well as helping them to preserve their brand by avoiding legal issues, recalls, and other potentially damaging events.

Understanding the Need For Automated Inspection

We know that bringing pharmaceutical products to market will always be a challenge. This important and detailed work requires a system that can provide consistency, speed, and accuracy each and every time. And while humans play an essential role in developing these life-changing (and, sometimes, life-saving) medications, it's often necessary to rely on automated tools to ensure these products can become available without delay.

Understandably, many pharmaceutical companies have started to embrace 100% print inspection systems and other advanced technologies to eliminate errors and speed up the packaging process. At a certain point, it becomes impossible for humans to increase their speed without risking mistakes. These machines can step in so that manufacturers can protect their product, their brand, and the public all at once.

Although it can be tough to accept that automation is now a part of our lives, this application is beneficial to all parties. It's simply another tool in your arsenal that can set your company apart and can allow you to produce more effective and error-free packaging and labeling for your pharmaceutical products.

How Luminer Is Prioritizing Print Inspection in Pharmaceutical Packaging

These automated 100% print inspection systems sound great, but how can you access them? The answer is surprisingly simple: by choosing the right pharmaceutical labeling company to design and print your pharmaceutical labels and packaging.

At Luminer, we understand the immense importance of error reduction and inspection for the pharmaceutical industry. This is, quite literally, a life-or-death issue in many cases. Therefore, multiple production lines at both our New Jersey and Pennsylvania facilities have been  outfitted with 100% inspection capabilities, which means we can verify print quality and compliance at every stage from pre-press through production. And we continue to invest heavily in elaborate inspection systems so that every production line — whether running pharmaceutical labels, food labels, chemical labels, or for that matter any label produced — will have been 100% verified both in production and in the rewinding department. From copy and code errors to debris, smears, and color inconsistencies, our systems are able to inspect all types of materials and substrates to eliminate issues that could otherwise jeopardize the safety and accuracy of your packaging and labeling. Even the smallest of mistakes will be identified and rectified before your packaging is ever even printed.

Your pharmaceutical labeling and packaging need to promote your product with accuracy and protect the public at the same time. That means that maintaining quality control must be a priority for your company. In the digital age, it makes sense to embrace technologies -- like 100% print inspection systems -- that can help you achieve those goals and bring your products to market. In order to do that, you'll need to work with a packaging and labeling company that can address those concerns and alleviate errors. For more information on how we can support your design and printing needs for your pharmaceutical products, please get in touch with our team today.

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