In the European Union (EU), poisoning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death for children and adolescents, with one of the most cited causes being medicinal drugs. Despite increased efforts over the last fifty years to improve parental education in childproofing homes and developments in child-resistant packaging that have steadily decreased the number of cases, accidental poisoning remains a considerable risk in the home. This article by Najet Mebarki at SGD Pharma and Dr. Rolf Abelmann at IVM Childsafe GmbH will explore how the pharmaceutical industry faces this global medical challenge, evaluating existing and future pharma packaging trends.
‘Innovative User-Friendly Child-Resistant Packaging Solutions’
Unintentional poisoning is a relatively widespread medical emergency, with children at the highest risk of accidental intoxications that could prove fatal. Cases often occur within the home when young children are exploring their surroundings and gain access to improperly stored harmful substances such as cleaning chemicals, fuels, alcohol, tobacco and, most frequently, medication. In the United States (US) and Europe, over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications are the leading cause of child poisoning, with analgesics being particularly common. As well as the risk to life, unintentional child poisoning has a significant socio-economic impact, with medical costs and long-lasting disability. Figure 1 shows the global burden of unintentional childhood injuries, including poisoning.
Pharmaceutical companies are therefore being increasingly called upon by patients and stakeholders to recognize the importance of child-resistant closures (CRCs) in medical packaging. When developing child-resistant packaging for pharmaceuticals, one of the greatest challenges is creating a closure design that prevents children from gaining access to harmful substances while maintaining usability by adults – particularly seniors. A growing trend of home care (intensified by the Covid-19 pandemic) as well as an increasingly aging population, is directing the focus of child-resistant packaging towards the accessibility needs of older patients. Packaging suppliers must work with pharma companies to create life-saving solutions that address this current trade-off.
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