December 2, 2022

Paracetamol sales restriction plan goes too far, say pain advocates as

The move came after the regulator made codeine products, such as Nurofen Plus and Panadeine, prescription-only in 2018 due to addiction concerns.

Pain Australia said reducing the size of paracetamol packs would mean pain sufferers would have to visit stores more frequently and expressed concern about restricting sales to over-18s.

“While this would have a negative impact on young carers who provide support to adults, this policy imposes the same requirements for access to paracetamol as alcohol or tobacco which are clearly more harmful in general for society,” reads -on in his memoir.

The Royal Australian College of GPs has agreed ‘additional information [was] necessary” on the impact of an age restriction, writing in his submission that it would be “harmful” to those under 18 suffering from acute pain, such as headaches, menstrual pain or flu-like symptoms. .

However, the college was in favor of restrictions on pack sizes, provided paracetamol continued to be available in supermarkets, and favored this approach rather than placing paracetamol behind the counter.

“Allowing the purchase of two packs of 10 tablets is reasonable and will reduce the tendency to keep large stocks at home,” he writes.

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The college also supported the prescription of modified-release paracetamol only, although Pain Australia and the Pharmacy Guild both expressed concern about making the change before the impact of placing the drug behind the counter in pharmacies has not been properly assessed.

In its submission, Suicide Prevention Australia fully supported the recommendations, including limiting the sale of paracetamol to those over 18.

Consumer Healthcare Products Australia, the industry association of sponsors of non-prescription medicines, said it already supported a two-pack purchase limit in supermarkets, but felt the reduction in pack size was “too ​​restrictive to meet the legitimate therapeutic needs of consumers”. .

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Haleon, GSK’s parent company that makes Panadol, confirmed it had made a submission to the TGA but declined to disclose.

“Haleon shares its concerns about the complex issue of mental health in adolescents and young adults. Action to address this, including those aimed at mitigating drug stockpiling in Australian households, is a collective responsibility and we want to play our part,” the spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Coles said he did not make a submission to the committee. Woolworths, which imposes a five-pack limit on its customers, confirmed that it had “engaged with the TGA as part of its consultation processes”.

“We support efforts to reduce intentional self-harm while maintaining reasonable access to pain relief for members of the community,” a Woolworths spokesperson said.

Ryde’s wife, Leah Dwyer, said she would struggle to afford the doctor visits needed to continue taking paracetamol under the proposed changes. She currently buys blister packs of 96 tablets from a pharmacy.

The 58-year-old man lives with cervical dystonia, a neuromuscular disease characterized by involuntary muscle contractions in the neck.

She takes four to six modified-release tablets each day to control her pain, having tapered off codeine when it became a prescription-only drug.

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“I always talk to my pharmacist, so she knows where I’m at,” she says.

Dwyer said she was very concerned about the increased costs she and others would face if modified-release paracetamol was scheduled to require a script again, as the number of wholesale-billed GPs fell.

“After 14 years of chronic pain, I just want to get on with my life. I don’t want to have to see a doctor every two weeks and say, “Yes, this medication is working well and I feel fine, can I have another scenario?”

The Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Medication Planning Advisory Committee will discuss proposed changes to the sale of paracetamol at its Nov. 16 meeting.

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Proposed Amendments to the Poisons Standard

Option 1: Obligation for paracetamol to be sold in blister packs.

  • Option 1A: Paracetamol in solid dose (tablets/capsules) should only be available in blister packs for preparations intended for general sale.
  • Option 1B: Paracetamol in solid dose (tablets/capsules) should only be available in blister packs for general sale and in pharmacies.
  • Option 1C: Paracetamol in solid dose (tablets/capsules) should only be available in blister packs at all outlets.
  • Option 1D: All solid paracetamol preparations, including prescription and over-the-counter preparations, should only be available in blister packs at all points of sale.

Option 2: Restrictions on the size of paracetamol packs.

  • Option 2A: The maximum box size of paracetamol should be reduced to 10 x 500mg tablets/capsules or 5 individual sachets for preparations for general sale.
  • Option 2B: The maximum box size of paracetamol should be reduced to 32 tablets/capsules of 500mg or 16 individually wrapped sachets for pharmaceutical preparations only

Option 3: Restrictions on the purchase of paracetamol packs.

  • Option 3A: Allow the purchase of a single pack both without a prescription in pharmacies and on general sale.
  • Option 3B: Allow the purchase of only one pack at a time without a prescription in preparations for general sale.

Option 4: Prevent the display and self-selection of paracetamol at outlets other than pharmacies, i.e. require paracetamol to be purchased behind the counter.

Option 5: Age restrictions for the purchase of paracetamol.

  • Option 5A: Limit the minimum purchase age to people 18 and over in pharmacies and for general sale.
  • Option 5B: Limit the minimum purchase age to people 18 and over in preparation for the general sale.

Option 6: All Modified Release Paracetamol should be rescheduled from Schedule 3 to Schedule 4 (prescription only), with no change in maximum package size.