Packaging Advancements That Protect Children From Medication Overdoses

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Pharmaceutical containers

What do you do when you can’t open the child-lock on your pharmaceutical bottles? Hand it to your 5-year-old.

In all seriousness, did you know the most common form of poisoning is medical overdoses? In fact, as many as 70,000 children are taken to emergency rooms every year for ingesting medication that could be potentially be life-threatening. Keeping dangerous medication out of the mouths of children is relatively simple problem to solve, with innovative pharmaceutical containers and closures.


To help keep children safe from overdosing on medication they shouldn’t be touching to begin with, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) created a partnership with Pharmaceutical containers suppliers and manufactures of plastic medical components called the PROTECT Initiative to develop child-safe packaging for potentially dangerous medication. The initiative is multi-faceted in its approach, by promoting public awareness on storage safety, packaging design, and extensive testing.

Packaging Design
In order to be child-safe, a plastic pharmaceutical container should require an intentional movement, such as putting pressure on the lid, or pressing the sides together to open, or should be made out of strong plastic medical components that are require more strength than a child has to open. The best child-safe containers involve two levels of protection that are undemanding for an adult who can read the instruction to open, but a child cannot get into.

Extensive Testing
Ideally, every new pharmaceutical packaging design should be extensively tested with both a demographic of children (age three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half) and also adults (age 50 to 70). Among the testing group of children, at least 80% unable to get the bottle open within 10 minutes. Among the testing group of adults, at least 90% should be able to open the bottle and properly re-close it in less than one minute. This ensures that the bottle will adequately keep the contents safe from the hands of children, while being accessible to the adults it is prescribed for.

Creative Solutions
Many effective solutions for protecting children from dangerous medication haven’t even been put into mainstream use yet. Some solutions include:

  • Child-resistant flexible pouches are made from industrial-strength plastic medical components that are tear-resistant to children, with a “push to engage” slider that requires an adult to apply pressure to open.
  • Re-closable cartons for blister packs are high grade plastic packaging that enclose blister packs for unsafe medication. The carton requires an intentional action to unlock, and then the blister pack itself is made from a material that a child cannot easily tear.
  • Targeted push solutions are designed to compliment locked blister pack containers. Rather than requiring excessive force to break the pill from the package, the material that seals the blister pack is impenetrable with exception to small strategic spots that allow the medication to be removed through intentional actions. The package gives instructions for a specific manner that the pill should be pressed in order to break it from the package, making it impossible for a child to get it out.

Next Steps
By increasing public awareness of medication safety measures, not only do adults gain an understanding of responsible medication storage, pharmaceutical manufacturers are also incentivized to use the safest packaging technology for hazardous medication, to satisfy public demand. References. Links like this.

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