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Medicines (Safe Packaging)

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to ensure the wider use of the opaque strip or blister pack classes of child-resistant tablet containers, in view of the expressed preference by the Medicines Commission for such containers rather than for containers with child-resistant closures.

The Medicines Commission recommended the use of unit-packaging rather than reclosable child-resistant containers partly because it believed that unit packaging is inherently child resistant and could be defined without requiring tests involving children, as was necessary for reclosable containers. The Government decided that it was necessary to permit the use of both types of packaging in order to accelerate the general introduction of child-resistant containers. The regulations which required safety packaging for aspirin and paracetamol—the Medicines (Child Safety) Regulations 1975 and the Medicines (Child Safety) Amendment Regulations 1976—in fact favoured the use of unit packaging since this was only required to be "selected with a view to its resistance to opening by children" while reclosable containers had to comply with British Standard 5321, which involved testing with children and adults.Companies marketing such products will by now have made their choice of containers to comply with the regulations, and I do not consider that it would be justifiable at this stage to seek any reversals of such decisions.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to have British Standard specifications laid down for the production of opaque strip or blister pack child resistant drug containers.

The British Standards Institution agreed in 1975, at the request of my Department, to produce a standard for pharmaceutical unit-packaging for solid-dose medicinal products. The standard will be based on such factors as the tear strength and tensile strength of the material, and could be used to eliminate flimsy packaging which is not resistant to opening by children. I understand that a draft standard will soon be circulated by the British Standards Institution to industry for public comment.