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“Packaging for Seniors Will Be a High Priority Topic for the Future”
Dr. Horst Antonischki
Dr. Horst Antonischki has been director of the market research institute for packaging in Braunschweig for over 30 years, where tests are carried out to certify child proof packaging, which is still easy to open for seniors. MEDICA.de and packaging specialist for seniors’ strength have discussed solutions which meet the security demands of children as well as the demands for easy-to-open packing for seniors.
MEDICA.de: Mr. Antonischki, what difficulties do seniors have in opening medicine packaging?
Horst Antonischki: The biggest problem is that a lot of packaging requires a great deal of physical effort to open. The effort required should not exceed 0.6 newton metres, which is about one kilogram. Moreover, brackets provided in order to pull and subsequently open the packaging are often too small, difficult to detect or to grab a hold of. Many opening and operating instructions are hard to read and some have a font size no bigger than 1.5 millimeters. This is not acceptable for seniors.
MEDICA.de: Why is packaging constructed this way?
Antonischki: Child proofing has always been a priority. This is accepted by more than 90 percent of the elderly, although 70 percent have difficulties in opening the packaging. However, child proofing has not been achieved by stiffly shut packages. The solution lies with a mechanism that cannot be figured out by a small child. The oldest and most well known child proof packaging is opened by pressing and turning the lid at the same time. However, many seniors suffer with joint pain have difficulties with this as it requires physical effort.
MEDICA.de: Are there any alternatives?
Antonischki: Yes, for example the so called bayonet socket, which is similar to the press and turn mechanism but does not require much physical strength. Alternatively, Wallets can be used; these are blisters for pills packed in carton. Wallets provide child proofing in that they require several steps to open. The “keyhole system” works like this: the oval capsule lies crosswise on a rotating wheel in the blister. It is accessed by pulling a plastic strap, which rotates the wheel and in turn moves the capsule into a 90 degree angle. Now it is ready to be removed through an opening punched at the bottom of the blister. Another example of a Wallet is the “filter-system”. This provides a thin, moveable polythene sheet between the blister and the perforation at the bottom of the carton. As soon as you pull this polythene sheet to one side of the packaging you gain access to the pills by pushing them through the aluminum foil of the blister and the perforated carton. Altogether Wallets are particularly suitable for seniors as they are normally very easy to open.
MEDICA.de: Are these Wallets already available commercially?
Antonischki: Unfortunately, since they are relatively expensive, Wallets are not readily available. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies avoid the long and extensive admission procedures of the Federal Institute for Drugs. Although I believe, that this will change soon. Due to demographic changes, senior-oriented packaging will be the top priority topic of the future.
MEDICA.de: There are more and more seniors, but little attention is paid to their needs.
Antonischki: This is due to the expansive admission procedure and the fact that patients aren’t able to influence pharmaceutical packaging. They take the medication that the doctors prescribe for them.
MEDICA.de: Is senior-oriented packaging more appreciated elsewhere?
Antonischki: Yes, for example in the USA there aren’t such extensive admission procedures for new packaging and the Americans have probably recognized the need for these improvements, because of the increasing senior market.
The interview was conducted by Sonja Endres.