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Paracetamol could be restricted in Australia after rise in 'self-harm' overdoses: TGA

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Is this the end of over-the-counter pain relievers? New attempt to limit acetaminophen after wave of ‘self-harm’ overdoses

  • Therapeutic Goods Administration Considers Limiting Paracetamol Sales
  • A report shows that paracetamol overdoses were highest among young Australians
  • Researchers made seven recommendations to limit the sale of the painkiller
  • They include the size of the paracetamol boxes and how to buy them

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Australia’s drug regulator is considering cutting paracetamol sales after an alarming rise in ‘self-harm’ overdoses among young people.

An independent report published by the Therapeutic Goods Administration found that overdoses of the painkiller were highest among adolescents, with female teens especially at risk.

In response, the TGA will now begin a consolation process to discuss the report’s recommendations, including limiting the number of acetaminophen boxes a person can purchase, reducing the number of tablets in each box, and limiting sale to anyone under the 18 years.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration considers limiting the purchase of acetaminophen (pictured) after reports of overdoses among young people

The Therapeutic Goods Administration considers limiting the purchase of acetaminophen (pictured) after reports of overdoses among young people

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Poll

Should over-the-counter acetaminophen be banned for anyone under the age of 18?

The report, which was led by professors from the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University, looked at injuries and deaths caused by overdoses.

It was also examined whether ‘the current access controls for the purchase of paracetamol products are suitable’, especially when it comes to young people.

Paracetamol is currently the most widely used non-prescription pain reliever in the world and is widely available.

Every year, about 50 Australians die from a paracetamol overdose, while about 225 are hospitalized with liver damage.

“While hospital admissions and death rates have not increased in recent years, there has been a worrying increase in abuse in the community,” the report said.

“Both impulsive and planned paracetamol overdoses occur to a similar extent, with impulsive actions often using paracetamol that is already available at home.”

Those who overdosed usually took tablets from a larger pack of acetaminophen compared to a smaller pack.

Recommendations include limiting the number of paracetamol boxes a person can buy, reducing the number of tablets in each box and limiting sale to anyone under the age of 18 (stock image)

Recommendations include limiting the number of paracetamol boxes a person can buy, reducing the number of tablets in each box and limiting sale to anyone under the age of 18 (stock image)

Recommendations include limiting the number of paracetamol boxes a person can buy, reducing the number of tablets in each box and limiting sale to anyone under the age of 18 (stock image)

Researchers found that survival rates from a acetaminophen overdose are usually “excellent,” but only when seeking medical treatment two to six hours after taking it, otherwise there was a serious risk of injury or death.

The report made seven recommendations to reduce the risk of intentional overdoses.

One suggestion is the introduction of modified-release acetaminophen, a stronger dose of the prescription-only medication.

The recommendations are open for feedback on the TGA website until October 14.

They will then be discussed during a meeting of the Medicines Planning Advisory Committee in November.

If you or someone you know needs confidential 24-hour support, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.