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Fresh look at CRC designs

Researchers at Leeds and Sheffield Universities have worked with a London design consultancy to develop patented alternatives to the traditional child-resistant closures used on many medicine bottles which they say are often “too difficult to open”.

Sheffield University’s Packaging Research Group, headed by pyschologist Dr Belinda Winder, recently questioned 250 16-84 year-old consumers and 100 further volunteers aged 20-84 via questionnaires to determine how difficult it is for people to open child-resistant medicine packs. “90% said they still struggle with these containers,” Winder explains.

The greatest problems are apparently with push, turn and squeeze, and turn caps. “Many reported only being able to get the caps off after several attempts,” says Winder. “Consequently, users often decant potentially dangerous drugs into another container accessible to children or simply leave the top off.”

Winder’s team subsequently worked with the University of Sheffield’s Faraday Packaging Partnership and London agency Factory Design to develop alternatives. “We worked on the basis that CRC designs should not rely on physical strength to open them but instead on mechanisms requiring one or two physically undemanding actions too sophisticated for 0-4 year-olds.”

The project partners developed 12 CRC concepts, submitting six patent applications and developing three: ‘Poke’ – a long tube with a spring-loaded catch inside that can only be released by pressure from an adult length finger; ‘Slide’ – a cap where three buttons must be aligned correctly for the flat container’s lid to be pulled back and sprung open; and ‘Tri’ – a squashed spheroid-shaped pill pack, deeper from top to base, to facilitate gripping.

The pack concepts are now available for license. Meanwhile, Child-Safe Packaging Group secretary Stephen Wilkins says he cannot agree with Winder’s research conclusions. “Although I have not seen her full report, the industry has recently been plagued by a lot of pseudo-science masquerading as research.”