How to Test Blister Packages for Pharmaceutical Drugs

Most people from the Northeast eagerly look forward to spring, but for some this season can present a challenge. People who are allergic to pollen, for instance, dread the onslaught of spring for it consequently means that they suffer from a runny nose, sneezing, etc.

Further compounding their problem is the fact that certain allergy medication on the market comes in blister packs, which are often difficult to open.

Many tend to suffer from sore and painful fingers when the blister pack casing of medication is hard to open. What’s more, when the pack is finally opened, the tablet could fall on the floor where it can be stepped on and get trampled in the process.

Benefits of Blister Packs

Commonly used for most pharmaceutical drugs, blister packages offer a number of advantages – such as portability, tamper-resistance, and extended preservation of drugs. Often, however, certain blister packs need more force to open, even if they are sold with others in the same box.

In such cases, it would prove useful for such packs to be produced with consistency, resulting in a similar level of force required to break open the pack. Thus, an important QC test technique is to determine the force required to extract the capsule from a blister pack.

Tablet in blister pack

Tablet in blister pack

Soft gel capsule in blister pack

Soft gel capsule in blister pack

Brookfield CT3 Analyzer

Manufacturers can benefit immensely by using a physical test instrument – like the Brookfield CT3 Analyzer – to design and qualify the strength of the blister pack to match customers’ requirements. Importantly, the pack must be sufficiently strong and prevent breakage during shipment and distribution. On the other hand, it must enable easy extraction of pills by adults, yet difficult to open for children.

Brookfield’s CT3 Analyzer

Brookfield’s CT3 Analyzer

The CT3 Tester with Blister Pack Support Fixture (TA-BPS) uses a compression test, thereby eliminating the assumption from packaging design and providing quality control of the required tool to ensure compliance with research and development specifications.

Brookfield

Brookfield's Blister Pack Support Fixture

What’s more, the TA-BPS has been specifically developed to calculate the force needed to push a pill through the blister pack. The procedure involves placing the pack comprising the capsule face down on the foil side on the base of the TA-BPS device.

Then, the V2 inch radius Finger Probe, which is designed to replicate a human finger, is pushed down onto the tablet at a steady speed, forcing the tablet through the foil. This procedure is an imitation of a person taking out a capsule from the blister pack.

In this test, peak load is the main information obtained. In other words, peak load is the maximum force observed during the probe’s descent on the package, indicating the resistance or hardness of the pack. Simply put, when the value is higher, the foil side of the blister pack becomes equally harder, thus implying the need for more force to push out the tablet.

Another key data point is the work done value – measured in milli-joules – which calculates the work done by the instrument in removing the pill from the blister pack. Thus, an objective value is obtained for the effort needed to surmount the strength of the blister pack.

Comparing forces required to extract a hard tablet and a soft gel capsule from a blister pack

Comparing forces required to extract a hard tablet and a soft gel capsule from a blister pack

Peak Load

The graph in the above figure demonstrates the differences in reaction between the blister pack for a hard pill and a soft gel pill, during the test with the CT3 Analyzer. The test was conducted with the CT3 Analyzer being equipped with a finger probe.

In contrast to the soft gel capsule, the blister pack for the hard tablet recorded a higher peak load, meaning more force is required to extract the pill from the blister pack. Thus, the results demonstrate that the force used to extract the capsule from the blister pack is directly proportional to the hardness of the packaging material.

Conclusion

The testing process illustrated above is a quick and easy method to detect the varied forces needed to open a blister pack. Similarly, tests can be conducted to calculate the relaxation, rupture strength, and resilience properties of thin films and other identical products.

The CT3 Analyzer is equipped to measure the packaging strength that links to human sensory perception. Thus, it is an essential tool in quality control checks to ascertain and maintain the consistency of a product. In addition to attractive packaging and tablet color, the ease of extraction and tablet protection are equally essential criteria to ensure customer satisfaction. These properties give an edge to the product in the competitive market.

About AMETEK Brookfield

Brookfield, a business unit of AMETEK Inc, is the world leader in viscosity measurement and control of liquids and semi-solids for 80+ years!

We manufacture and distribute globally viscometers the AST 100 for advance sensor technology for simple, direct in-line viscosity measurement, DV2T Touch Screen with temperature measurement, rheometers DV3T for measuring yield stress and viscosity, RST Controlled Stress for challenging rheological measurements, CT3 Texture Analyzers which features compression and tension mode for measuring firmness, springiness and chewiness and PFT Powder Flow Testers which measure yield stress and viscosity flow index and arching dimension used in R&D, QC and inline applications for rheological fluid analysis, tension and compression and powder flow analysis.

Markets include: food cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, oil & gas, personal care products, adhesives, printing, inks & coatings, paper coatings, chemicals, packaging, plastics, construction materials, and asphalt.

Brookfield AMETEK manufacturers and services a full range of viscometers and rheometers, texture analyzers, and powder flow testers. Additional services include: testing for viscosity, texture and powder properties, calibration and certification program, custom fixture development, free technical papers, seminars, videos, application notes, manuals, and educational and training programs.


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Last updated: Jan 22, 2019 at 11:24 AM

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