In the field of freeze-drying, the primary packaging material plays an essential role. Here, the packaging system not only contains and protects the drug product during storage and shipping, but it is also directly involved in the freeze-drying process itself. The heat transfer characteristics of the actual container system influence product temperature and therefore product homogeneity and quality as well as process performance. Consequently, knowledge of the container heat transfer characteristics is of vital importance for process optimization. It is the objective of this review article to provide a summary of research focused on heat transfer characteristics of different container systems for pharmaceutical freeze-drying. Besides the common tubing and molded glass vials and metal trays, more recent packaging solutions like polymer vials, LYOGUARD® trays, syringes, and blister packs are discussed. Recent developments in vial manufacturing are also taken into account.
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