Australian regulator considers restricting access to common painkillers

Australia’s medical regulator is considering restricting access to painkillers after an increase in overdoses.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is investigating cases of accidental and deliberate paracetamol poisoning in adults and children.

“Paracetamol is the most widely used painkiller in the world and available without a prescription,” the TGA said in a statement.

Box of generic paracetamol capsules
The TGA is looking for accidental and intentional misuse of paracetamol. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“Access restrictions are currently in place, through the Poisons Standard, on the pack sizes and concentrations of paracetamol that are permitted in general retail (e.g. supermarkets and convenience stores), the pharmacy or sale reserved for pharmacists.

“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 are appropriate.”

The inquest will look at the number of paracetamol poisonings across Australia and compare it to other common painkillers available without a prescription.

Generic box of paracetamol pills
The investigation will see if any access restrictions need to be introduced. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

It will also examine whether restricting access to paracetamol or creating purchase ceilings would reduce the number of accidental and intentional poisonings.

A report will be prepared by July for the relevant approval bodies to make a decision on the changes to the availability of paracetamol.

“This report is intended to assist the TGA in determining whether changes to paracetamol programming, including access or purchasing controls, may be warranted,” the TGA said.

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