HC Deb 17 January 1977 vol 924 cc26-7W
Sir Bernard Braine

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what evidence he has been given by the Medicines Commission or any other body that the introduction of child-resistant containers for medicines in England and Wales will prove to be safe and effective.

Mr. Moyle,

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 11th January 1977; Vol. 923, c. 455], circulated the following reply

A Medicines Commission Working Group report on "The Presentation of Medicines in relation to Child Safety" endorsed by the Medicines Commission was published in May 1974.

The working group recommended the use of unit-packaging after receiving evidence that unit packs have properties which can contribute to the prevention of accidental poisoning of children. These properties include the benefit that the total contents of the package are not immediately available to the child who is likely to gain access to only a few tablets before losing interest or being detected. The working group noted the requirements in the United States for child resistant packaging for certain medicines and, as my right hon. Friend said in reply to the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith) on 5th May 1976, there is evidence of a substantial reduction in the number of cases of aspirin poisoning of children since the introduction of child-resistant packaging in North America.

Regulations made under the Medicines Act 1968 are in operation requiring the use of child-resistant containers, including unit-packaging, for pre-packed solid dose forms of aspirin and paracetamol for retail sale. Child-resistant containers have been in use only a short time and experience of their effect on accidental poisoning is limited. A survey reported in the British Medical Journal on 31st July 1976 indicated that the number of children admitted to hospitals in Newcastle and South Glamorgan with accidental salicylate poisoning was halved in the first six months since the introduction of child-resistant packaging for children's aspirin and paracetamol.—[Vol. 910, c. 399.]