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Key Considerations When Selecting A Pharmaceutical Contract Packaging Service Provider

By Sidney Randall

Keys Considerations When Selecting A Pharmaceutical Contract Packaging Service Provider

Choosing the right packager for your products can be a daunting task and one that should not be taken lightly. There are numerous companies that claim to be expert packagers. However, when entrusting an outsource party to serve your supply chain, it is imperative to choose a partner that has a similar culture and shares a similar vision. Additionally, one that employs values and integrity instilling these traits within their associates is invaluable. The following eight elements are a guide to selecting a qualified outsource partner.


Each packaging project is unique, whether the need is for primary and or secondary packaging. Choosing a partner that has the ability to provide these services in a professional manner based on the customer’s specific needs is important. Does the packager maintain the agility necessary to deliver turn-key value; like bottling and labeling, blistering, fold-over card heat sealing, basic tear-down and re-work, as well as, general product packaging? The right partner must be able to satisfy your minimal packaging requirements while meeting production requirements in a timely manner. One that can exceed your minimal packaging requirements will provide long-term sustainability.


When considering a potential packager; people, equipment, and facilities are the key to a successful partnership. The selected outsource team needs to maintain the appropriate talented personnel, at all levels within the organization. Associates need to have experience, be customer focused, and participate in continuous training.

Equipment and tooling should be well maintained with documented preventive maintenance schedules. Should a piece of equipment fail or a tool break, does your outsource partner ensure back-ups are available? Downtime is costly for all parties involved. As a result, your outsource partner should possess the mindset of forward thinking for serving their customers.

The packager’s facility should be certified and employ cGMP standards. Designated areas such as quarantine, finished goods, and incoming inspection should be clearly defined and labeled appropriately.


Depending on your specific packaging needs, certifications from the following agencies should be held and maintained by your partner of choice:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
  • Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • State Board of Pharmacy

Quality Systems

Quality Assurance is one of the most important elements when packaging pharmaceuticals. Having world-class systems in place to ensure compliant, validated, and repeatable processes is vital to both the customer and packager. Any packager that does not have documented Standard Operating Procedures with strict cGMP practice adherence should be questioned as a potential partner.

Customer Service

Customer Service can determine the success of the partnership. Knowledgeable, customer focused representatives are a vital part any outsource relationship. Ensuring external and internal customer needs are understood and met on-time and on budget, provides long term success for all stakeholders.

Turn-key Solutions

Choosing a partner that offers a complete solution can be a win-win scenario. Value added services such as component sourcing, inventory management, and project management that allow a packager to manage all aspects of the packaging process, are more advantageous than those who merely provide labor for product packaging.


In a competitive market the ability to serve compressed lead times has become an expectation. Customers at all levels want instant response. The packaging partner selected must be able to react to these demands and offer customized solutions for non-standard packaging campaign requests.

Packagers that offer packaging design and in-house component production can assist in the speed to market challenge. Shelf space is a premium and once gained, the presence on the shelf can determine a product’s success. Offering innovative concepts in both graphical and structural design is one way to help clients gain a competitive edge.


When developing product costs, experience has shown that many view packaging as an afterthought. As a result, the packaging system becomes an easy target for reducing costs. After all, it is just packaging, but in reality, studies have proven that packaging sells. Developing the correct balance between packaging systems that are compliant, right sized, convey the intended consumer communication, and maintain cost effectiveness, can be accomplished by choosing a qualified outsource partner.


In today’s economy having a competitive edge is imperative for long-term sustained growth and success. Many companies are becoming lean by performing internal assessments to concentrate on core competencies and eliminate functions that are best served by outsource partners. For many manufacturers of ethical and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs choosing to have their products packaged by an outside partner is one result of the aforementioned assessment practice. The key elements outlined can serve as guide to choosing the best qualified partner for your packaging needs.

About the author

Sid Randall is the Technical Services Manager for Pharma Packaging Solutions, a pharmaceutical packaging company that delivers original, turn-key contract and compliant packaging solutions to global pharmaceutical and nutraceutical companies. Sid’s experience includes 25 years of domestic and international manufacturing of Pharma, industrial, and consumer products; focusing on quality assurance, continuous improvement, and maximizing profits and synergies. Specialization includes the areas of product and brand management, packaging development, lean manufacturing, engineering management, program management, procurement, marketing, and supply chain management. He has a BS from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Liberty University.