While medications can be replaced or provided with relative ease to those on low Earth orbit missions, long-duration lunar or planetary exploration missions will require an expanded pharmacy. In addition to the need to supply a larger collection of medications, the pharmaceuticals within the medical kits will need to maintain appropriate stability. Current practices involve repackaging medications outside of manufacturer’s packaging to conserve mass and volume on the spacecraft. Although operationally necessary, it is not known how the repackaging affects the shelf-life of the drugs. Improved packaging systems are needed, as it has been shown that medications are susceptible to the unique conditions experienced during spaceflight, including radiation, microgravity, and vibration.
To address this critical need, Luna Labs proposes the development of DoseShield™. This protective packaging system will include both primary and secondary packaging components in a comprehensive solution to maintain pharmaceutical stability while reducing stowage. For primary packaging, high-efficiency blister packages will provide protection to susceptible solid pharmaceutical doses against environmental exposures (e.g. moisture, oxygen) without the typical costs to mass and volume. This solution will maintain additional advantages of blister cards, including protection from vibration, and the packs will be developed to be compatible with a range of medications through broad protection against failure mechanisms. Secondary packaging will be explored to address the concerns of radiation exposure during spaceflight. The secondary packaging will be reinforced with radiation resistant additives to reduce penetration of galactic cosmic rays.
The proposed packaging solution will be designed for easy integration into current NASA processes for medical kit packaging for spaceflight. Specifically, it will be engineered to provide stability to pharmaceuticals by protecting them from environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and radiation.
Additional non-NASA applications may include military and civilian operations that require a smaller pharmaceutical footprint than what is provided by original manufacturer packaging. This packaging solution has the potential to decrease the burden of large and bulky medical kits during long-term deployment or travel.