February 15, 2018

The Speed of Safety

Beginning in late September 1982, the Chicago area, and in fact the entire country, was on edge as seven people died after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide.  Tens of millions of packages were recalled; people were afraid to take any medicine for a while, fearing they could suffer the same fate.

Less than a full year later, the NY Times published an article about industry-wide efforts to develop truly tamper-proof packaging.
Companies that make over-the-counter drugs and other consumer products are still struggling to cope with the packaging worries that began with the contamination of Tylenol capsules last year, resulting in the death of seven people.
Since then, over-the-counter drug makers have spent $173 million to meet the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration for tamper-resistant packaging, according to the Proprietary Association, a trade group of non-prescription drug makers. 
The article noted some of the challenges in coming up with something that was truly tamper resistant, and also the challenges faced by consumers trying to get into the new packages to use the products. This is still an issue today, I can attest, as I'm currently battling the flu with both prescription and non-prescription medicine, and it takes several minutes of meditation, a pair of scissors, and often a knife to get the meds out of their protective covers. I surely would have a drink to help steady my nerves before attempting to get the pills, if alcohol weren't contraindicated.

We also learned from the Times article that the original deadline for the entire non-prescription drug industry to be 100% compliant with  the tamper-resistant packaging rules was February 6, 1984 - a mere 495 days from the first Tylenol death.

On December 22, 2001, Richard Reid tried - and failed - to light a fuse in his sneaker, hoping to take down a plane flying from Paris to Miami.  On July 10, 2003 - only 565 days later - the TSA issued a press release attempting to clarify what they had been doing with shoe screening for months.
TSA's increased focus on screening shoes in recent months reflects a necessary reaction to information gathered by federal intelligence agencies. But just as TSA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, achieved consistency last fall by clarifying procedures for the screening of drinks carried through security checkpoints, the agency is moving now to make sure its shoe policy is implemented consistently from coast to coast. 
"Our screeners have always worked hard to make sure a 'shoe bomb' does not get on an aircraft," Admiral Loy said. "Now we must make sure our security process is consistent so air travelers know what to expect at every airport in the country." 
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School occurred on December 14, 2012. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred 1,888 days later.

Still too soon?

No comments:

Post a Comment