Access to popular pain killer could change

·1-min read

The days of buying bulk packs of paracetamol could soon be over after a new report found misuse of the medication is on the rise.

About 50 Australians die from a paracetamol overdose each year and the medicines regulator is examining whether current accessibility is appropriate.

An independent report commissioned by the Therapeutic Goods Administration found teenagers and young adults had the highest rates of intentional overdose with the pain killers.

The rates were higher among females in those age groups.

The report found while hospitalisation and death rates have not increased in recent years, there had been a "concerning increase" of misuse.

While survival rates from a paracetamol overdose are typically excellent, this is only if treatment occurs within six hours of ingestion.

Delayed treatment can result in serious liver injury and sometimes death and can be complicated by different forms of the drug.

Planned and impulsive overdoses occur at similar rates but the report found the latter often used paracetamol already in their homes.

Consumers also tend to buy the larger sized packs which are more often used in overdoses.

Several recommendations from the report are now being considered by the regulator, including reducing the size of packs of paracetamol sold and limiting the number of packs people can buy in one shop.

Restricting people under the age of 18 from buying paracetamol without a prescription is also being recommended.

The report also calls for increased communication about the dangers of misusing pain killers.

The regulator has opened a public consultation period until mid-October to determine whether to amend the poisons standard to reflect the report findings.

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