March 10, 2021
The past year has revealed numerous heroes across the healthcare spectrum—from the developers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals to the manufacturers who produce the sterilization packaging for life-saving products that play a critical role in patient safety. To recognize the important role of the sterile medical packaging supply chain, the Sterilization Packaging Manufacturers Council (SPMC) organized the inaugural Sterile Packaging Day, taking place on Wednesday, March 10, 2021.
Sterile Packaging Day celebrates and recognizes all partners in the medical device supply chain who work collaboratively and seamlessly to deliver medical devices in a sterilized and safe manner to healthcare professionals and, ultimately, patients, according to a release from SPMC.
“It has been a tough year since the beginning of COVID-19 and there are many on the front lines who are battling for an ultimate victory over this global scourge,” said Henk Blom, Ph.D., and chair of SPMC’s technical committee, in the release. “Sterile Packaging Day has been created to recognize and thank all of these fighters who have tirelessly collaborated to deliver safe and sterile medical products to those in dire need of the essential devices to win the war over COVID and other health conditions.
Marie Tkacik, technical committee member, SPMC, highlighted the importance of medical packaging, adding that it does more than keep products sterile. “Its design also affects its shelf-life and effectiveness. Proper packaging design and material selection are essential. A medical device needs to go through an extensive validation process and the packaging must protect the critical sterile barrier integrity while safeguarding the device,” she said in the release.
In addition to honoring the people involved in the industry, Sterile Packaging Day aims to raise awareness of three important packaging principles—patient safety, peace of mind, and supply chain strength, Blom said.
“Protecting patients’ health and safety is always our industry’s first priority. In this respect, medical packaging must meet a long checklist of essentials, including strict compliance with regulations, ease of use for patients and caregivers, compatibility with vetted sterilization methods, and safe and efficient manufacturing,” he said. “Consumers should intuitively respect this process and trust that the packaging has performed its critical function in delivering the medical product in its most effective state to the patient.”
One of the challenges that medical device packaging engineers face, Blom said, stems from being the last to be called to contribute to medical device development projects. Sterile Packaging Day will “broadly communicate the message that packaging is critical” and will aim to “elevate packaging engineers in the product development cycle,” he said. The SPMC will also provide education to packaging engineers through a series of webinars that can help them in their roles, as well as FAQs on material storage and handling, he said.
Additional information about Sterile Packaging Day is available at www.sterilizationpackaging.org/sterile-packaging-day. The site includes a toolkit to help raise awareness of Sterile Packaging Day and the importance of sterile packaging in ensuring patient safety.