IVM (Institut Verpackungsmarktforschung) is one of the few accredited institutes in Europe according to ISO 17025 as a testing laboratory for child resistant packaging, and the only accredited certification body for child resistant packaging in Europe in accordance with EN 45011. It is recognised for its high standards by both consumers and governing bodies within the industry, as an institute that can issue certificates according to the testing conducted. It is also recognised by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Throughout the development of packaging we find numerous points for consideration, for example, protective function, marketing aspects and logistical factors, but often there is a focus on the visual or ecological aspects too. Good packaging should do one good thing: it should be easy to open. The removal and dosage of the contents by the user should be achieved without any problems. The re-closure should also present no problems and ergonomics is a priority.
When handled, the packaging should not, for example, hinder the user from being able to remove the drug or product contained
within. If these basic requirements, which are often taken for granted, are not fulfilled, this then can lead to problems for consumers and manufacturers alike.
Difficulties with the handling of pharmaceutical packaging in particular can cause problems with patient medication adherence. Negative experiences with the packaging can lead to a negative association with the product. The result of this is that often no repeat purchase is made, no recommendation provided or no purchase at all when the package seems challenging to open. These are reasons enough to make efforts to solve potential problems for the consumer. Studies on consumer acceptance of pharmaceutical packaging are making a valuable contribution in this area.
CEN/TS 15945 (Packaging – Ease of opening – Criteria and test methods for evaluating consumer packaging) is the first standardised method that simultaneously assesses the ease of opening and consumer acceptance of packaging. It provides a method by which both the packaging’s ease of opening and consumer satisfaction attributes can be assessed. It takes into account that with age, not only visual acuity and motor skills diminish, but also that the power of the hands starts to decrease. Easy opening is defined here as "ease of handling during the opening process which is supported by the product packaging to give the consumer the chance to reach his or her key objective(s)".
The main objectives are effectiveness and efficiency while handling and the degree of consumer satisfaction with the handling rocess. Packaging is considered as easy to open if the majority of adult consumers describe it as effective, efficient and satisfactory according to the above criteria. The package is considered effective if the participants can open it within five minutes, and then considered efficient to open within one minute.
CEN/TS 15945 is a useful tool for manufacturers, as it demonstrates that the packaging has a competitive edge, and due consideration has been given to user friendliness. This is commercially interesting for the product producer (fillers), and ultimately the end-user. It is also of interest to consumer/governing bodies and industry publications and other relevant organisations when evaluating and reviewing a particular package or product.
Demographically, society is changing. The population is getting older due to longer life expectancy and a decline in birth rates, and manufacturers are slowly starting to consider this in their design and production. Examples of this would be larger text on the packaging, fliptop lids, lighter materials, suitable shapes for easier grip, larger flaps to grasp and pull, and in the case of cap removal, less rotation required for opening.
It is often not explicit on the packaging that it has been designed and manufactured to be senior-friendly, which perhaps would be advantageous from a sales perspective, for the consumer to be able to identify the product easily and persuaded to choose the product over an alternative competitor.
Service providers such as ivm-childsafe. com can provide qualified support, be it in the assistance of the choice of packaging or in providing the panel group testing according to CEN/TS 15945.