Packaging from Hell

Are you as frustrated by product packaging as I am? From over-the-counter drugs to batteries to hair dryers the war against the consumer goes on.blister pack tablets

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered why packaging is so difficult to breach. Are the designers trying to wield their power? Are they stupid? Are they sadists? Do they think someone will steal or damage the product?

Strange as it seems, every time I remove an anti-histamine tablet from a blister pack or open my newly-purchased herbal supplement bottle , I think of a 1982 Chicago product tampering scare. Some really angry person tainted Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules with potassium cyanide as the bottles sat on store shelves. Seven people died in a series of poisonings. Although there were a couple of suspects, no one was ever convicted of this crime.

Copycat product tampering followed, notably in 1986, when a woman tainted bottles of Extra-Strength Excedrin with cyanide poison. Her husband died (as she planned) as did another individual (collateral damage) in the same town. In association with these deaths, Stella Nickell was eventually found guilty on Federal product tampering charges. She was sentenced to two concurrent ninety-year terms. She’ll be eligible for parole in 2018 and could still face charges for those murdes in the state of Washington.

Johnson & Johnson and Bristol Myers, respectively, each immediately recalled all their products from the market and were credited with saving hundreds of lives. But more than that, they subsequently made radical changes to how products were packaged and even manufactured.

But it’s not fair to blame all impenetrable product packaging on the 1980s tampering culprits. Child-proof packaging, namely a child-proof cap, was first conceived in 1957 and perfected in 1967 by Dr. Henri Breault.

Photo by Beth

Photo by Beth

I’m not sure what fiendish mind came up with the hard-to-open really heavy plastic packages that seem to be molded to the products. Some are immune to scissor attacks and not at all concerned by an approaching utility blade. Penetrating the seal creates extremely sharp plastic pieces which are eager to begin blood-letting adventures among one’s tender fingertips.

I suppose I can put up with a little inconvenience if lives are safer. Still the clamshell blister wrap seems a little excessive.

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