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Rick Custer
Commercial Director, Fresh-Lock, Slide-Rite & Specialty Films, Presto Products Co.

Presto Product's newest child-resistant technology shows promise for a variety of pharma applications. 

With greater market and regulatory demands, pharmaceutical packaging continues to evolve—with new technologies and innovations emerging every day. Pharmaceutical packaging companies must oversee authentication, stay abreast of track-and-trace technologies and methods, while also being attentive to shelf life, contamination control, and child-resistant packaging.

One company attempts to redefine how the industry approaches packaging—specifically child-resistant packaging.

Child-Guard™, a child-resistant technology, is a new innovation in the flexible packaging industry and the newest edition to the Slide-Rite® slider portfolio, which is a business unit of Presto Products. This closure system was specifically developed to meet the Poison Prevention Packaging Act standards.

Rick Custer, Commercial Director, Fresh-Lock, Slide-Rite & Specialty Films, Presto Products Co., participates in a Q&A about their new product.

Q: What are some of the criteria involved with the Poison Prevention Packaging Act?

Custer: The purpose of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA), enacted in 1970, is to protect children under 5 from poisonings and deaths that can occur when children open containers of hazardous products and access the contents. The PPPA aims to utilize packaging as a barrier to help prevent children from unintentionally ingesting hazardous household substances. It mandates that certain products—such as chemical products, cosmetics, mouthwash, drugs, and dietary supplements—be kept in special packaging.

For a package to be child-resistant, a total of 80 percent of the children tested must not open the package during a full 10 minutes of testing. To ensure adults are able to use the child-resistant package properly, 90 percent of adults tested have up to 5 minutes, and then another minute in a second test, to open and close the package.1

Since the PPPA has been in effect, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there have been significant declines in reported deaths from ingestions by children of toxic household products including medications.2 Recently, multiple pouch designs incorporating Child-Guard have been successfully tested by accredited third party laboratories for their effectiveness in being child-resistant as defined by the regulation.

Q: Could you describe the process and design behind the creation of Child-Guard?

Custer: Finding a child-resistant packaging solution in a flexible format has been a challenge for the packaging industry for years. Over the last several decades, flexible packaging companies have worked on a number of potential solutions, many of which aimed at creating a press-to-close zipper option. Most that were created served only to increase the difficultly of opening a package while not resulting in truly child-resistant packaging. The solutions that were eventually created were prohibitively expensive and difficult to ship due to protruding parts. Brand owners were effectively left with only rigid packaging options for products that required child-resistance.

Our engineering and R&D teams spent several years developing and testing the design for Child-Guard. The design was pursued first and foremost because of its effectiveness in providing child-resistance in an elegant design.

Secondly, we pursued a design that could be easily integrated into our current slider application equipment. Child-Guard is based on Presto’s existing Slide-Rite® technology. Therefore, there is already a global network of equipment with the capacity to be fitted to process the Child-Guard slider.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced in the process of creating Child-Guard?  

Custer: The biggest challenge was to design a closure that would keep children out AND be intuitive and easy for senior adults to use (as required by the PPPA). It is easy to achieve one or the other. However, the combination of the two requirements makes it a complex problem. The package must be very difficult for a child to get into, while being simple enough for an elderly individual to easily access—the Child-Guard slider design strikes the balance between the two.

Q: Were there other child-resistant, PPPA-compliant technologies that you considered?

Custer: Presto’s engineering and R&D teams developed multiple design options for Child-Guard, ultimately deciding on the current iteration due to its effectiveness and the design’s simplicity.

We realized early on that the slider platform was the clear choice. Most of the press-to-close options centered on increasing the force required to open the package. We did not expect this option to pass the strict regulatory testing mandated by the PPPA.  A 5-year-old child can still apply a significant amount of force on the package, so this type of solution was not likely to result in child-resistance, rather only child-deterrence. We feel this is an important distinction to take note of; as other solutions enter the market following Child-Guard, manufacturers must be aware that certain alternatives do not offer full child-resistance.

Another important aspect that makes the slider platform a better option is the ease of re-securing the package. A package offers no resistance to children if it is not closed properly. In fact, re-closability is part of the PPPA testing protocol; senior adults must be able to reclose the package.

Q: What are some of the potential pharmaceutical applications of Child-Guard?

Custer: A few potential pharmaceutical applications are for tablets, capsules, transdermal patches, powders, and medical marijuana. Combined with the right packaging format and film, Child-Guard can provide a host of products with safe and flexible tamper-evident security. The introduction of Child-Guard opens the door for flexible packaging to be considered as an alternative to traditional rigid and semi-rigid packaging solutions for many pharmaceutical applications.

Q: What are some of the benefits of Child-Guard, compared to traditional child-resistant bottles?

Custer: For product categories in which regulations mandate child-resistance, Child-Guard now allows brand owners to utilize all the benefits that flexible packaging has to offer over traditional rigid alternatives.

Flexible packaging has become the second-largest packaging category in the United States, due in large part to the host of benefits the format provides in comparison to rigid packaging. Flexible packaging is lighter in weight and has a higher product-to-package ratio, leading to both environmental and cost-saving benefits throughout the entire supply chain. From a shipping standpoint, a significant amount of packages can be stored and transported in comparison to rigid bottles, which ultimately saves on costs and energy. Flexible package also offers improvements to barrier properties compared to rigid options.

Q: How has Child-Guard been received thus far, and where has it been primarily used?

Custer: Since its release, Child-Guard has been received very well! In fact, the Medi-CRREO pouch from Pactech Packaging—which utilizes the Child-Guard slider—was recognized as a Gold Winner in the 2015 DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation. It also received a Gold Award for Technical Innovation from the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA).

The application has garnered interest from a wide range of industries—including pool chemicals, household cleaners, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, detergents, cannabis, tobacco, and smoking cessation products.

Q: What are some of the potential applications of Child-Guard in the cannabis industry?

Custer: Child-Guard is currently being utilized in the cannabis industry. As the legal cannabis industry grows, so does the need to protect children from unintentional ingestion. Child-Guard has been applied to FunkGuardTM—a child-resistant re-closable package geared toward the cannabis industry from FunkSacTM. FunkSac partnered with Presto and Atlapac Corporation, a contract converter, in order to bring the product to market. FunkGuard can be used as a primary package or as an exit bag solution—wherein primary packages are placed into a larger FunkGuard pouch before leaving a dispensary in order to comply with individual state regulations.

Q: Since your company provides the closure technology, do you have recommendations as far as bags/materials that would be most advantageous to pair with the Child-Guard for pharmaceutical applications?

Custer: This piece of the child-resistance puzzle has largely been solved. Numerous materials have already been tested for child-resistance in a single-use format. Many of these options would be suitable for a re-closable Child-Guard application as well. Most, if not all, pharmaceutical applications require product contact materials to have a Drug Master File (DMF). There are many structures on the market today that have both a DMF and are suitable for child-resistant packaging.  

Photo credit - Charles Williams
(Photo credit - Charles Williams; https://www.flickr.com/photos/charlesonflickr/3926259585)

Q: How does the manufacturing of Child-Guard compare to manufacturing traditional child-resistant plastic bottles (or other containers) for pharmaceutical use?

Custer: The manufacturing process for Child-Guard is very similar to Presto’s existing Slide-Rite® technology, only with minor modifications to the equipment being necessary. In comparison to traditional child-resistant plastic bottles, which require the production of a blow-molded bottle, the production of Child-Guard is a relatively simple pouch making operation.

Q: What do you foresee for the future of pharmaceutical packaging, and—more specifically—for the potential application of the Child-Guard™ in the industry?

Custer: Across all packaging types, flexible packaging has been one of the fastest growing over the last decade.3 We expect this trend to continue, as the benefits offered by flexible packaging are clear—enhanced barrier properties, sustainability, and the intrinsically economical nature of the format. Child-Guard will only serve to further this growth, as the technology will allow the pharmaceutical industry to consider flexible packaging for an even greater number of applications. 

References:

  1. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Business--Manufacturing/Business-Education/Business-Guidance/PPPA/
  2. http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Regulations-Laws--Standards/Statutes/Poison-Prevention-Packaging-Act/
  3. http://www.smitherspira.com/news/2015/july/global-flexible-packaging-market-sees-rapid-growth

About Presto Products Company

Presto Products Company is a market-leading supplier of products ranging from private label food and disposer bags to packaging closures. Presto, a business of Reynolds Consumer Products, operates six manufacturing plants and supports customers in North America, Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit www.prestoproducts.com.

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