Glass Ampoules: Applications and Limitations

Ampoules are small sealed vials used to contain and preserve a sample in liquid or solid form, protecting the sample from contact with air and contaminants. Typically, ampoules are made of glass, although sometimes plastic is also used. Once the sample is added, the thin top of the ampoule is melted with an open flame, sealing it hermetically. The sample can be accessed when required by snapping off the neck of the ampoule.  

The glass ampoules are more expensive in comparison to other containers; however, the strength and high-quality storage ability make glass ampoules the preferred choice, especially for pharmaceuticals. The glass ampoules are tamper-proof, transparent and able to protect the sample from exposure to gases and liquids.

Applications

The applications of glass ampoules are primarily concentrated in the field of pharmaceuticals, but in recent times the applications have also expanded into the cosmetic market. Glass ampoules are sterile, sustainable, easy to recycle and most importantly maintain the integrity of the solution that they contain. Any chemical or aqueous solution within the glass ampoule is protected from tampering, oxygenation, and contamination, and can be kept secure until required. Each individual ampoule is marked by the manufacturer so that the contents can be identified without opening the ampoule.

Due to the characteristics of glass ampoules, they make ideal containers for pharmaceuticals, especially for parenteral liquids which are injected intravenously or into the blood system. Since the glass ampoules can contain exact single dosages, they are easy to use at home, particularly for patients without formal medical training.

Popular applications for glass ampoules in the medical field include vaccines, insulin, and biopharmaceuticals. Factors driving the market for glass ampoules are advancements in the field of pharmaceuticals, development of complex chemical solutions, larger geriatric population, the rise in chronic diseases, and the increase in popularity of injection-based treatments.

Limitations

Glass ampoules are sturdy, but not immune to breakage. The biggest disadvantage of using glass ampoules is the chance of contamination while opening the ampoule as microscopic glass shards might fall into the solution. While there is an ideal method to open the glass ampoules minimizing the danger of shattering any of the glass, the risk is comparatively high for non-professionals attempting to break the ampoules. Even the tiniest pieces of glass can cause extensive damage when injected.

Another limitation to the use of glass ampoules is the cost factor, as they are expensive to manufacture and can be used only once. The rise of pre-filled injections has hampered the market of glass ampoules as the process of measuring and transferring drugs to the injection is eliminated altogether.

Global Market

Currently, more than 80 percent of ampoules are in glass format and the global market for glass ampoules suppliers is expected to reach $12.4 billion by 2021, driven by demand for parenteral packaging.

Among the developed economies, prominent manufacturing nations are US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Japan. Developing nations leading the production of glass ampoules include China, India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Malaysia, Colombia, Turkey, and Pakistan.

The extensive applications of glass ampoules in the pharmaceutical industry combined with medical advancements worldwide ensure a steady demand for the glass ampoules. Despite the risk of breakage, glass ampoules provide a host of benefits in maintaining the quality of the encased sample. The risk of breakage can be mitigated with proper training and instruction.