Accidental medication poisoning in children is still possible despite child resistant packaging.
The average length of time unused prescription medication remains in the medicine cabinets in U.S. homes is 3 years – or 1,095 days of opportunity for drug misuse and diversion. These leftover drugs also serve as prime contributors to the nearly 60,000 child accidental poisoning cases reported each year. While those numbers are overwhelming, they tell just part of the story. Sadly, each year more than 30 children under age 6 in the United States die from an accidental medication-related poisoning.
According to statistics provided by Safe Kids Worldwide every 9 minutes a child is admitted to an emergency room in the US suffering symptoms of accidental medication poisoning. And of these, 95% of medicine-related ER visits among children under age 5 are due to a child getting into medicine when an adult wasn’t looking.
Given these statistics, the natural question is “What about child resistant (CR) packaging? Shouldn’t this prevent accidental poisonings?” Since passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 the projected rate of child fatalities due to accidental ingestion of drugs has been dramatically reduced. However, at the same time, the number of prescriptions filled in the US has more than tripled in the years since the Act became law with 140 prescriptions now filled every second.
Parents can’t rely upon CR packaging alone for accidental poisoning prevention. Child resistant does not mean child-proof. The packaging requirements are meant to slow children down, giving parents an opportunity to intervene before the child can consume the medication. Even the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s own testing requirements still allow for up to 20% of children under the age of 4 to be able to open the bottle in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, research suggests that between 45-55% of all accidental medication poisoning involves child-resistant packaging.
Children, however, aren’t the only at-risk group for accidental poisoning or overdosing on leftover medications. More than 50% of all senior citizens take five or more medications or supplements each day. When you combine confusion of the different names of prescriptions with medicine cabinets containing the ticking time bombs of years-worth of leftover medications, the potential for accidents goes up considerably.
DisposeRx is committed to the eradication of unused medications through the use of our environmentally friendly, drug disposal solution for the immediate, site-of-use destruction of unused prescription medications. Retailers such as Walmart, Rite Aid and Kroger and payors such as Humana are distributing DisposeRx packets with opioid prescriptions to encourage proper drug disposal the moment the medications are no longer in use. DisposeRx is eager to work with nonprofits, community groups, schools, faith-based organizations and others to spread the messages of preventing addiction and drug misuse through proper drug disposal. To learn more about our programs, contact DisposeRx and a representative will reach out to you within five business days.