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October 1, 1982

Child-resistant containers a 'must' in drug-dispensing

JAMA. 1982;248(13):1555. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330130015006

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Physicians who dispense pharmaceuticals must use child-resistant containers except when patients such as the elderly or handicapped would be unable to open them, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The commission monitors compliance with the federal Poison Prevention Packaging Act, and many states have parallel statutes. However, says David Schmeltzer, associate executive director of the commission's Directorate for Compliance and Administrative Litigation, the agency is concerned that some physicians who dispense pharmaceuticals themselves may not understand that they are subject to the law's packaging standards "in the same manner [as for] prescription drugs dispensed by pharmacists." The law provides that non-child-resistant packaging may be provided at a patient's request or a prescribing physician's direction, Schmeltzer concedes. But he emphasizes that this clearly "is to be the exception rather than the rule."

Although children's accidental ingestions of aspirin and potentially poisonous substances of all kinds have declined by an