Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma has started using biomass-based plastics in blister packages for its pharmaceutical products.

The blister package is made from plant-derived materials and contains sugarcane, which represents 50% of the raw material used in its development.

Astellas will begin using the biomass-based plastic blister package for the Irribow Tablet 5µg in Japan from this year.

The product, whose generic name is ramosetron hydrochloride, is indicated for diarrhoea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.

Astellas plans to replace the existing petroleum-derived plastic blister package with the packaging across more of its products in the future.

The company also said that it will continue to explore more sustainable packaging materials.

The new packaging is claimed to provide the same high tablet protection function and usability offered by tablet packaging containers.

It allows tablets to be seen through the packaging and separated easily, as well as having environmental benefits.

In a statement, Astellas said: “By fully using our packaging technology cultivated over many years, we have actualised the production of biomass-based plastic sheets that can be mass-produced while achieving tablet protection function and usability.”

The development is in line with Astellas’ goal to ‘deepen its engagement in sustainability’, part of its Corporate Strategic Plan 2021.

According to the company, the packaging will support the 13th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which involves taking ‘urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts’.

The company also said that it will continue working to ‘further promote sustainability activities and expand information disclosure under its basic policy’.

Astellas operates in more than 70 countries, working to help develop drugs for therapy areas with high unmet medical needs.

The company aims to create healthcare solutions that combine ‘expertise and knowledge with cutting-edge technology in different fields of external partners’.