Plastics in packaging have proved to be useful for the ease with which they are formed, high quality and the freedom to design. For pharmaceutical products they are primarily made of polymers one of them being polyethylene.
High density polyethylene is a material which is mostly used by pharmaceutical industry for containers for drugs. Polyethylene is a good barrier against moisture, it is not readily attacked by most solvents again it is not readily affected by strong acids and alkalis.
The density of polyethylene usually ranges from 0.91-0.96 and it directly determines the basic physical characteristics of the blow-molded container which include: Stress cracking, clarity or translucency, stiffness and moisture-vapor transmission. An increase in density of the material, makes the material stiffer, gives it a higher distortion and melting temperature. It becomes less permeable to gases and vapor and again it becomes less resistant to stress cracking. The molecular structure of the high density material is normally the same as that of the one with lower density.
Polyethylene has a demerit in that it lacks clarity and it has a relatively high rate of permeation of essential odors, flavors and oxygen. Even with this disadvantage, polyethylene in all its variations offers the best protection to products at the lowest cost possible.
Polymers are generally susceptible to oxidation degradation especially during processing and subsequent exposure which makes it necessary for addition of subsequent antioxidant. The mainly used antioxidants include butylated hydroxy toluene.
The amount and nature of the additives are determined by the nature of the polymer, which is usually used to convert the polymer into the container. The containers manufactured for pharmaceutical purposes must always be free of substances which can be extracted in qualities significant by the product contained which enable hazards of toxicity and chemical instability to be avoided at all cost. The additives mostly added to bottle grade polyethylene are antistatic additives which minimizes airborne dust accumulation at the surface of the bottle during filling, storage and handling. The antistatic additives are usually polyethylene lung chain fatty amides which are usually used at 0.1% -0.2%. The additives may consist of antioxidants, lubricants, impact modifier, plasticizers, stabilizers, colors and antistatic agents.
The high density polyethylene containers are extremely resistance to breakage which enables it to offer safety to consumers with a reduction of losses due to breakage during distribution and their use. Modification it is the physical and chemical properties of pharmaceutical packaging material in which permeation, sorption and leaching alters the properties of the plastic which may lead to degradation. Again most plastics containers have ingredients added in small quantities which stabilizes and impact specific properties and the prospect of leaching.With the properties indicated by high density polyethylene makes it preferable for pharmaceutical uses.
In case the quantity of the dispensed drug with one being more squeezed leads to a relaxation of hard pressure which permits the product being sucked into the tube. Containers for pharmaceutical use made of polyethylene material are able to retain their shape throughout its use, it is leak proof, unbreakable and have a unique suck-back feature.
Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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