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June 5, 1996

The Safety Effects of Child-Resistant Packaging for Oral Prescription Drugs: Two Decades of Experience

Author Affiliations

From the Directorate for Economic Analysis, US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1996;275(21):1661-1665. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530450051032

Objective.  —To evaluate the effectiveness of child-resistant packaging in reducing the mortality rate for children younger than 5 years from the unintentional ingestion of oral prescription drugs.

Design.  —Annual mortality rates for children younger than 5 years associated with the unintentional ingestion of oral prescription drugs are constructed for 1964 through 1992. The effect of child-resistant packaging on the child mortality rate during the postintervention period (1974 through 1992) is evaluated with a multivariate time series regression model. The analysis controls for changes in the consumption of oral prescription drugs over time and for long-term safety trends.

Setting.  —United States.

Subjects.  —Children younger than 5 years.

Main Outcome Measure.  —Estimated reductions in the child mortality rate associated with the use of child-resistant packaging.

Results.  —After controlling for covariates, the use of child-resistant packaging was associated with an annual reduction in the oral prescription drug—related mortality rate of 1.40 (95% confidence interval, 0.85-1.95) deaths per million children younger than 5 years. This suggests a reduction of about 460 child deaths from 1974, the year oral prescription drugs became subject to child-resistant packaging requirements, through 1992—a mortality rate reduction of about 45% from levels projected without the child-resistant requirements.

Conclusion.  —Child-resistant packaging reduces child mortality from the unintentional ingestion of oral prescription drugs.(JAMA. 1996;275:1661-1665)