My first exposure to the joint effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) that later became known as PROTECT was in 2009 when a regulatory affairs colleague at Perrigo suggested I become part of the packaging workgroup within that initiative. At the first meeting I attended, my initial impression was that the knowledge and experience base brought together by CDC’s Dan Budnitz and the CHPA was truly impressive. Aside from a couple of familiar faces from the packaging industry, the participants involved were mostly folks that a packaging professional doesn’t normally interact with. There were representatives from multiple government agencies and private sector pharma companies, pediatric physicians, poison control professionals, university researchers, and others. I remember thinking at the time that this was an awesome opportunity to help make medications safer as well as work with some very accomplished individuals in fields other than my own.
Through these years the PROTECT group has exchanged information, ideas, and perspectives that have been invaluable. Understanding a poison control center professional's or emergency room physician’s perspective of how an accidental overdose may have occurred is both interesting and compelling, and I hope those of us in the packaging profession have been just as informative when explaining some of the complexities of developing and implementing packaging improvements and innovations. Kudos to Dan and his staff for keeping the topics focused and flowing, the agendas interesting, and the discussion lively.
As time has moved on, there has been a steady stream of progress on several fronts, including consumer education and messaging, consolidating and clarifying dosing increments, delivery device innovation, and the ongoing collection of additional data to better measure the overall progress. The packaging improvements we’ve seen implemented in the marketplace have been focused primarily on liquids, but more recent PROTECT discussions have been devoted to ideas for increasing packaging safety for solid dosage forms, particularly some classes of Rx drugs.
It’s great to work for an organization or company (in my case, Perrigo) that supports an initiative like this and provides resources for us to continue the progress. I appreciate the time, effort, and contributions that all of the individuals and organizations involved have made and continue to make, especially Dan from CDC and Mark Plezia from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, along with packaging suppliers like Comar and Sturgis Molded Products for being consistent PROTECT participants and supporters.
Mike Reiter, associate director of packaging engineering, Perrigo Co., will be speaking in the panel discussion “Drug Dosing Safety, Part 2 Panel Discussion: New Child Safety Packaging Features for OTC Packages with Potential Applications for Other Products” held June 16 during EastPack. Joining Reiter on the panel will be Daniel Budnitz, director of the CDC’s Medication Safety Program in the division of Healthcare Quality Promotion; Elizabeth Quaal Hines, MD, clinical fellow, Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University & Bellevue Hospital, New York City Poison Control Center; and Russ Granato, regulatory & quality lab manager, Comar. The panel discussion follows a presentation by Budnitz titled “Drug Dosing Safety, Part 1: The Case for Safety Innovations and Standardized Dosing in mL: Implications for Packaging & Labeling.” In the session, which is part of the "Ensuring Patient Safety & Product Efficacy Through Successful Packaging" track, he’ll share national safety data, advances in medication safety packaging, the move to standardize dosing to milliliters, and the implications of both for packaging and labeling.