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Major change to Panadol in supermarkets

Packs of the commonly used pain relief drug are set to change from 2025.

A major change to paracetamol-based medicines is set to come into effect across the country in an attempt to reduce the chance of an overdose from household stockpiles.

After reviewing the use and impact of the drug, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced their final decision on Wednesday. The change will see caps placed on the number of tablets or capsules available for purchase per pack, impacting commonly used drugs like Panadol, Panamax and Chemists' Own.

Medicine stacked on supermarket shelves, with brans such as Panadol and Chemists' Own visible.
Paracetamol-based medicines like Panadol with soon be restricted with the number of tablets and capsules capped per pack. Source: AAP

The new restrictions will be rolled out in February 2025, with the maximum size of paracetamol packs for sale in supermarkets and convenience stores dropping from 20 to 16 tablets.

The maximum size of a paracetamol pack available for purchase under the supervision of a pharmacist will also drop from 100 to 50 tablets, with any packs exceeding this requiring the authority of a pharmacist for purchase.

Access to liquid and prescription only paracetamol will not be impacted by the decision.

Why are the changes being made to paracetamol packs?

The TGA have made the decision to restrict pack sizes in the hope it will minimise the number of intentional paracetamol overdoses, with research finding 225 Australians are hospitalised and 50 deaths are recorded every year in the country due to self-poisoning from paracetamol.

Research also found that most impulsive acts of overdose often use paracetamol already present in the home, therefore, smaller packs will hopefully reduce these incidences while maintaining access to the drug for appropriate pain relief use.

The change has been in motion for several years, with the announcement on Wednesday overhauling an interim decision made in February. Alongside the change, the TGA have said they will continue to share educational information about the risks involved in paracetamol consumption in the hope of mitigating risks.

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