Unit Dose Packaging: A Simple Definition

The call for a safe and effective way for hospital staff to distribute drugs brought about the creation of unit dose packaging. This invention has more than just lasted; it has vastly expanded. In America, over three quarters of oral medication is given in unit doses to hospital patients. It is common for companies that manufacture pharmaceuticals to pre-package their medicines using unit dose packaging. In cases where medications are not available in prepackaged unit doses, the hospital pharmacy will need to do the packaging themselves.

As is implied by the name “unit dose,” the medication in unit dose packaging is equivalent to one single dosage. They may also only contain enough doses for a 24-hour period. The benefits of this type of medication packaging in a hospital setting include:

  • Protection of medicine
  • Barcoding for individual doses
  • Better patient services through pre-measured doses
  • Patient payment for exact medicine used, versus bulk amount in a bottle
  • Efficient medicine count and more precise distribution to patients
  • Damaged packages are more readily apparent
  • Electronic documentation of use

In a world where so many people are taking prescription medications daily, it is beneficial for patients to have their medications pre-packaged in unit doses. This can let them know exactly how many of which medication to take, preventing confusion. Unit dose packaging can also help patients maintain a proper use of medication, and therefore have a proper healing process. This is also the case for hospital staff who are dressing patient wounds. Single units of dressing materials enable caretakers to use the proper amount of material for each patient’s needs, avoiding waste.

Unit dose packaging has made its way from the medical field to various other industries, including cosmetics. Products such as lotions, gels, makeup, creams, and soaps, are effectively marketed using this packaging option. In the medical and cosmetic industries, products are in direct contact with the human body, meaning that protection of goods from contamination is essential for health, and happy customers and patients alike. Unit dose packaging provides this protection.

Packaging of individual units may be outsourced, manual, automated, or semi-automated. Hospital pharmacies and cosmetic companies will need to assess their business requirements, and consult their budgets, in order to select the packaging that will work best for them and their services. Outsourcing is a good option for companies with limited staff, and entails working with authorized repackaging vendors. Manual packaging is generally associated with blister-type packaging, and can minimize associated costs. The automated system option sends messages to the unit dose system for further dispensing needs, in correlation with a decrease in inventory. In semi-automated systems, companies receive flexibility and stand-alone ability at a more budget-friendly price.

Ultimately, unit dose packaging is available for any number of purposes, while providing tremendous benefits for companies and customers alike. Unit doses allow hospitals and other industries the ability to provide quality and convenience to their customers and clients, while also keeping tabs on use and inventory through barcoding. Though it was originally intended for medical purposes, nowadays, unit dose packaging can be a valuable marketing tool for cosmetic and beauty businesses, as they can sell stamped samples that will fit easily into pockets, purses, or the mail. The uses for unit dose packaging will only continue to expand, so if you feel that your business would benefit from this breakthrough invention, contact us today.

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