Paracetamol poisoning on the rise, TGA considers limiting how much people can buy

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Description

Key points:

Australia's medicines regulator is considering restricting who can buy paracetamol and how much

A report revealed there were 8,700 paracetamol poisonings in 2019-20, with a sharp rise among females

Young people aged 10-24 accounted for almost half of hospital admissions for intentionally misusing the common drug

Subject

Suicide prevention

Paracetamol

Health policy

Period14 Oct 2022

Media contributions

1

Media contributions

  • TitleParacetamol poisoning on the rise, TGA considers limiting how much people can buy
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletABC News
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryAustralia
    Date14/10/22
    DescriptionKey points:
    Australia's medicines regulator is considering restricting who can buy paracetamol and how much
    A report revealed there were 8,700 paracetamol poisonings in 2019-20, with a sharp rise among females
    Young people aged 10-24 accounted for almost half of hospital admissions for intentionally misusing the common drug
    Dramatic reduction in harm linked to reduced availability
    Between 2019-2020, there were more than 8,700 paracetamol poisonings.

    Most hospital admissions were due to intentional poisoning and young people between 10-24 years accounted for almost half...

    Paracetamol poisoning can lead to liver damage and the need for a transplant, and even death. "Evidence from the UK showed a dramatic reduction in the need for liver transplants and deaths from paracetamol overdose when they restricted the amount of paracetamol that was available in packets," said Gold Coast GP Professor Mark Morgan, also with the Royal Australian College of GPs.
    "Overall restricting access to paracetamol would reduce deaths and harms from overdose. We don't know to what extent, but evidence from overseas shows it could be as high as a 50 per cent reduction."

    But Professor Morgan added it is a balancing act and there is a need for most people to be able to access short amounts of paracetamol easily for short-term health issues like headaches and flu-like illnesses.

    He said the most important recommendation suggested is to make modified release paracetamol prescription only. It's harder to treat poisoning from this type of drug.

    "Although deaths from paracetamol are quite rare, it's absolutely devastating when it happens," Professor Morgan said. "It's a really significant cause of intentional self-harm and it's devastating because people are not aware of the liver damage being done and the need for hospital care immediately after an overdose."
    Producer/AuthorSarah Sedghi
    PersonsMark Morgan