The Value That Contract Packagers (CPOs) Bring to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharma contract packagers provide wide array of value added services
Over a period of several decades, the pharmaceutical industry has shifted, transitioning towards a practice of outsourcing not only manufacturing and packaging but also essential services including drug commercialization, e-pedigree services, product launch and so much more.

For years, contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) have handled both pharmaceutical manufacturing as well as drug packaging.  Today, contract packaging organizations (CPOs) have become an established specialty third party services provider, responding to the need for greater efficiency as well as intelligent packaging processes.

As pharmaceutical products have evolved and increased in complexity, packaging requirements have followed suit.  New regulations have required the redesign of pharmaceutical packaging to accommodate the directives. With the advent of the FDA Drug Supply Chain Safety Act, commonly known as DSCSA as well as the EU’s Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), drug packaging as well as entire packing processes have required a complete overhaul. 

Pharmaceutical manufacturers have turned to contract packagers in their hour of need.  Instead of investing in costly packaging equipment, labor resources knowledgeable about packaging solutions and facilities with packaging operations, they have partnered with CPOs.  Outsourcing a myriad of mission critical work to contract packagers has enabled drug manufacturers to focus more intently on their core mission and has resulted in ongoing cost and time savings, important when bringing new drug products to market.

How Can Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Benefit from Outsourcing to a Pharma CPO?

  • Leveraging a CPO’s expertise and technology can often save money and help bring drug products to market more quickly
  • Using a CPO enables drug manufacturers to have an actionable “Plan B” in case of a surge in drug product demand
  • CPOs tend to stay apprised of market trends as well as the latest technologies
  • Utilizing a CPO for its investment in technology can be an excellent cost-effective strategy
  • CPOs can offer extensive capabilities, adding value-added services which can then free up operations and technology team resources for drug manufacturers to concentrate on core issues in the business.
  • Helps to reduce cost per unit, without incurring upfront charges or capital investment
  • Enables the use of a flexible workforce needed for the manual assembly of specialized products, common with newer drug therapies
  • Provides the ability to alter operations to create non-standard or customized packaging
  • Enables you to take advantage of capabilities in handling extensive kitting services including for home-based self-injectable therapies that require detailed packaging and instructions for us
  • Helps drug manufacturers take advantage of new generic drug production arising from patent cliffs or drug products that candidates for Rx or over-the-counter (OTC) products.
  • Enables the leveraging of the experience and technology of CPOs that can aid in launching new drug products faster with fewer errors, consistent quality and at lower costs.

Services Now Outsourced to Contract Packagers Include:

  • Early stage drug form and pharmaceutical packaging design, including identification of package materials which optimize both the package and its production, packaging processes, types of packaging and innovative packaging solutions
  • Clinical trial and commercial scale primary and secondary packaging
  • Management of a drug product through its life cycle
  • Drug package serialization
  • E-pedigree services
  • Contract manufacture of APIs
  • Drug formulation and analytical development
  • Anti-counterfeiting measures
  • Procurement and management of packaging materials inventory
  • Development of just-in-time supply chain practices
  • Warehousing, including temperature-controlled drug storage in refrigerated and cold storage warehouse operations
  • Kitting and assembly
  • Receipt of imported product, inspection, chemical analysis, manufacture, test, validation and release of drug products to the drug manufacturer’s distribution centers or contracted third party logistics (3PL) warehouses


When you think of pharmaceutical contract packagers, what comes to mind?  A sea of CAD drawings, blister packages, plastic bags, clamshell packages and other types of packaging?    Does a virtual packaging gallery spring up in your consciousness complete with quality packaging specialists, POP displays, lowdensity polyethylene and vacuum packaging?  If so, then it is time to take another look at the pharmaceutical contract packaging industry. 

From bar coding and shrink wrapping to packaging design, blister packs, and plastic molding, contract packaging services have changed over the past two decades.  In years gone by, pharmaceutical contract packagers dealt with packaging machinery as well as primary and secondary packaging.  Today, contract packagers are an integral part of the process of bringing pharmaceutical products to market, from manufacturing through distribution.  Many contract packaging providers are now experienced in contract manufacturing, skilled at optimizing production and packaging processes for efficiency.

Experts in the design of product packages, including custom packaging, sustainable packaging and skilled in the use of packaging materials, contract packaging companies are highly successful in leveraging their expertise to save pharmaceutical manufacturers money as well as time in getting new products to market faster.  Need help with a sudden, unexpected flux of demand?  This is another example of how contract packaging companies can augment the capabilities of your company. 

Outsourcing.  It’s the new normal.  The practice of outsourcing to contract packaging companies can extend the capabilities of your organization and help you take on more business.  All good things.

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