Poll: restricting paracetamol

Following the release of new data on paracetamol overdose-related hospitalisations, we’d like to know what you think about access to the medicine

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found a significant increase in such hospital admissions, which was associated with a rise in liver injury.

Paracetamol is the medicine most frequently involved in overdoses in Australia.

The University of Sydney’s Rose Cairns, who with colleagues undertook the study, said that it is time to reconsider how paracetamol is sold – including looking at restrictions on pack sizes.

The authors took particular note of modified release paracetamol, which has been banned in Europe due to “documented harms”.

The Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling recommended at its March meeting that paracetamol in modified release capsules containing 665 mg or less of paracetamol would move to S3 from 1 October 2019.

Paracetamol would remain S4 in modified release tablets or capsules containing more that 665 mg paracetamol, or in non-modified release tablets or capsules containing more than 500 mg paracetamol.

“Due to its widespread use, paracetamol is likely to remain a common source of poisoning,” Ms Cairns wrote in The Conversation. “Our study shows it’s increasingly important we take measures to reduce harm from these events.

“Restricting pack sizes and restricting availability of modified release paracetamol are crucial first steps. We also need increased public awareness of how to use paracetamol safely.”

We’d like to know what you think – including about cold and flu preparations available from the grocery channel, which include paracetamol. And given recent calls to upschedule NSAIDs as well, we’ve added them in – let us know whether you believe these medicines should be restricted as well.

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