Australian medical regulators have brought in a panel of experts to look into the risks of deliberate overdoses involving easily assessable painkillers such as paracetamol.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced that it has called on a group of academics to release figures for overdose reports – including ER presentations and hospital admissions linked to paracetamol – in a bid to determine whether controls on the popular pain reliever should be implemented.
“The TGA is aware of the concerns, particularly of families and healthcare professionals of affected paracetamol consumers, about the number of poisonings and deliberate overdoses of paracetamol obtained from retail outlets, and whether drug restrictions ‘Current access is appropriate,’ the regulator said.
“This report is intended to assist the TGA in determining whether changes to paracetamol programming, including access or purchasing controls, may be warranted.”
There are currently no formal proposals outlining how regulators could tighten their grip on the drug, although some distributors have considered the option of imposing purchase limits on the number of packs consumers can buy in stores. supermarkets.
A spokesperson for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare – which sells Panadol in Australia – which sells Panadol in Australia, told the Sydney Morning Herald society has recognized the importance of a balance between appropriate access to paracetamol for immediate therapeutic needs and practical measures to support correct use.
“We share the community’s concern about intentional drug misuse and the complex mental health issues that underlie this behavior,” the spokesperson said.
The consumer health body said it would support package limitations on non-pharmaceutical sites, but disagreed with a complete overhaul of the regulations.
“We believe it is a responsible and balanced measure to implement a two-pack purchase limit for all single active ingredient oral pain relievers sold outside of the pharmacy, including all online sales in addition to supermarkets and other general retail outlets,” he said.
Consumer Healthcare Products Australia, which represents sellers of the drug, has worked with policymakers to strengthen the safety of over-the-counter drugs.
“If implemented, consumers purchasing over-the-counter pain relievers (paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin) at supermarkets, convenience stores and gas stations would be limited to two packs per transaction,” he said.
According to 2019 data, paracetamol was the most common drug implicated in overdoses worldwide.
The TGA expert report will be released by regulators in July.