NEWARK, N.J. — Changing regulations and shifting demographics are forcing closure makers to balance the protection of children with the desires of a growing senior population.
Seniors need easy-open caps, especially for their medications. Mark R. Fricke, divisional vice president of product development and research at Kerr Group Inc. in Lancaster, Pa., detailed the changing market at the Closure Manufacturers Association's technical seminar, held June 16-17 in Newark.
In 1970 the Poison Prevention Packaging Act ``wanted to reduce accidental poisoning of children under five,'' he said. ``In the 1970s the safety closure really took off because of the regulations and the alarming statistics [about accidental children's deaths].''
``It does save lives,'' he said.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 700 children have been saved from accidental poisonings by prescription drugs and aspirin. But it notes that adults who have trouble opening child-resistant packaging either have left the packages open or transferred products to an easier-open variety.
The concern for children's safety has not changed, but in recent years, changing demographics mean more and more seniors have to tangle with the safety caps. In 1995 and again in January 1998, the regulations were modified to help the seniors.
Fricke said that packaging for seniors is changing significantly. Larger printing with contrasting colors helps make text more readable on such containers. Easy-open and easy-close closures curb the likelihood that the wrong hands will get into the bottles.
He said CPSC used to test packaging with 18- to 45-year-olds, but now targets testing at 50- to 70-year-olds. Firms are putting more emphasis on dealing with degenerative issues like arthritis and poor eyesight, and are trying to design more senior-friendly closures.
R. Michael Cain, sales consultant with Unipac Corp. of Aurora, Ontario, said that in dealing with arthritic patients, the industry has found that pulling is much easier than pushing and larger caps are easier to handle.