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Global demand for primary pharmaceutical packaging is predicted to total $96.3 billion in 2025, up 6.1% per year from 2020:
Plastic bottles will retain the largest share of both demand value and unit demand based on low cost and adaptability to a complete range of oral (solid and liquid) and topical preparations.
Blister packs will post solid growth in both value and unit demand driven by expanding applications as unit dose containers for solid oral prescription and clinical trial drugs and high-visibility packages for oral over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements, and nutritional preparations.
Prefillable syringes will generate the fastest demand growth in value terms among all primary pharmaceutical packaging, reflecting infection prevention, response time, and labor-saving advantages in the administration of parenteral drugs and vaccines.
Demand gains for parenteral vials will be supported by enhanced barrier and low-cost advantages in the packaging of injectable drugs and vaccines.
Increasing use in the packaging of asthma, COPD, and other inhalable respiratory medicines will boost applications for prefillable inhalers, especially dry powder containers.
Unit dose applications will lead worldwide growth opportunities for pharmaceutical pouches, medication tubes, and strip packs.
The expansion of home healthcare services will offset trends toward shorter hospital stays, maintaining steady demand for IV preparations and related semi-flexible and mini-bag containers.
Packaging Demand by Material
Pharmaceutical containers, which are forecast to increase 6.0% annually in global demand to $112 billion in 2025, will provide significant revenue opportunities to suppliers of plastic, glass, paper and paperboard, and foil raw materials. Plastic containers make up the largest share of demand by far, reflecting broad applications served, favorable performance properties, and overall low cost. Pharmaceutical containers composed of glass, paper and paperboard, and foil account for a narrower range of uses, but generate a sizable amount of revenues and will continue to grow at a moderate or better pace over the long term. Glass in particular may benefit from accelerated research into improvements and manufacturing adjustments that is being done to help alleviate glass vial shortages caused by COVID-19 vaccine production.
Pharmaceutical packaging materials compete on cost and performance factors; to be successful, they must comply with various government and industry standards. Important performance properties for drug and related containers include aesthetics, barrier protection, security, and ease-of-use.
Pharmaceutical Industry Trends
The global pharmaceutical industry produces ethical and over-the-counter drugs, herbal and non-herbal supplements, and nutritional preparations used to cure, prevent, or manage diseases and disorders and/or to provide general health benefits. These products are forecast to account for combined worldwide production output valued at slightly over $2.0 trillion in 2025, up 6.1% annually from 2020.
Based on the advanced research and development, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities of drug-producing sectors, the developed countries of North America (United States and Canada), Western Europe, and Asia/Pacific (Japan and South Korea) are projected to generate 69% of global pharmaceutical output value in 2025. However, the developing world led by burgeoning drug-producing industries in China and India will provide faster growth opportunities. Specifically, the combined pharmaceutical output value generated in the developing countries is forecast to rise 7.2% annually through 2025 to nearly $625 billion. Some of this growth will be accounted for by subsidiaries of multinational drug makers, which operate production facilities in various developing markets.
This detailed study examines the global market for pharmaceutical packaging. Among the specific products analyzed are:
bottles and jars, which include standard plastic bottles, dispensing plastic bottles, plastic jars, plastic canisters, and glass bottles and jars
blister packaging, which encompasses compartment packs, slide packs, and wallet packs
prefillable syringes (injectors and cartridge holders)
parenteral vials and ampuls, including both glass and plastic types
IV containers (semi-rigid plastic IV containers, flexible IV minibags, and glass IV containers)
boxes and cartons (folding boxes and cartons, setup boxes, and corrugated shipping containers
pouches, including paper, plastic, and foil types
tubes, including composite tubes, plastic tubes, and collapsible metal tubes
all other packaging, including aerosol containers, clamshell packs, compartment pill holders and dispensers, composite and metal cans, foil and plastic cups, metal and plastic tins, plastic bags, plastic sprayer packets, plastic stick tubes, thermoformed trays
Pharmaceutical caps and closures, labels, and packaging accessories are excluded unless otherwise stated.
The study provides historical data (2010, 2015, 2020) and demand forecasts for 2025 and 2030 for pharmaceutical packaging in millions of US dollars (including inflation) by type, geographical region, and selected countries. Unit demand for the same years are provided for most product groups. The terms “shipments”, “production”, and “output” are used interchangeably in the study, as are the terms “demand”, “sales”, and “market”, which are defined as domestic shipments, plus imports, minus exports.
For purposes of this study, pharmaceutical packaging demand is defined as the value of finished packaging products sold by merchant companies and produced or assembled internally by pharmaceutical manufacturers and contract packaging firms.
Demand for blister packaging in this study includes not only the blister component itself but also the value of the secondary folding carton, shrink wrap, and other accessories (such as tamper-evident seals or packaging inserts). In other words, it is the cost of a finished package to the drug maker (whether it is produced internally or by contract packaging firms). The blister component of the package is generally not used on its own without secondary packaging. As such, demand for boxes and cartons used in the blister packaging is excluded from secondary packaging data to avoid double counting.
US statistics for pharmaceutical packaging products include sales and production activities in Puerto Rico. Most major multinational drug makers operate one or more production facilities and consume a significant volume of packaging in that territory. In 2020, Puerto Rico accounted for approximately 40% of the value of US pharmaceutical shipments and a comparable level of pharmaceutical packaging demand.
Pharmaceutical packaging is projected to post global demand of $112 billion in 2025, up 6.0% annually from 2020 due to:
expanding drug production volumes
trends promoting the use of higher value packaging, including increasing drug sophistication and adaptations to new indications, which make packaging requirements more rigorous and costly
advances in biological and chemical compounds that will broaden the range of pharmaceutical therapies available for widely prevalent diseases and disorders
COVID-19 Vaccine Production Causes Vial Shortage, But Market Otherwise Fairly Steady
Other than an ongoing shortage of glass vials, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exerted a minor direct influence on the pharmaceutical packaging market. COVID-19 vaccines are only a small portion of the applications for packaging in the pharmaceutical market, and demand for most other pharmaceutical packaging has continued to increase in line with trends in the production of drugs, dietary supplements, and nutritional preparations.
With a global population of nearly eight billion, the requirements of two doses (plus a booster) for many COVID-19 vaccines, and significant existing demand for vials for other drugs, the need for glass vials has become immense, challenging current capacity levels. Vial manufacturing has been slow to scale up to meet surging demand due to the capital-intensive nature of production and challenges in sourcing sufficient raw materials, though some expansions have been announced.
Compliance & Infection Prevention Advantages Will Boost Unit Dose Containers
Stepped up efforts to improve the adherence of patients to medication schedules – both regularly and for clinical trials – will favor increasing use of blister and strip packs, single dose pouches, and other unit dose containers in oral and topical pharmaceutical packaging. Single dose, prefilled syringes and glass vials will command the fastest unit and revenue growth among all pharmaceutical packaging since they:
prevent cross contamination and the spread of infection
are commonly used to administer parenteral drugs and vaccines for bacterial and viral diseases and cancer
Consolidation Provides Competitive Advantage for Pharmaceutical Packaging Suppliers
As upwards of 1,500 producers and contract packaging firms provide packaging to the global pharmaceutical industry. The business is highly fragmented. In order to better compete, leading suppliers have acquired other important industry players to expand their reach and offer new products and technologies. Notable among these changes are:
In 2019, Amcor acquired Bemis, a leading producer of flexible materials and components for blister packaging and other products
In 2020, Altaris Capital Partner acquired 3M Drug Delivery Systems, which was subsequently integrated into Kindeva Drug Delivery, to become a new competitive force in prefillable inhalers