"Sale of paracetamol should be limited"

9th August 2010, Comments 0 comments


The Dutch Society to Promote Pharmacy, the KNMP, has called for a ban on the free sale of Paracetamol.

Paracetamol, an effective medicine for headaches and pain, was introduced in the late 1800s. However “ if large doses are taken for longer than two weeks, it causes liver problems,” according to a spokesperson for the society on Dutch public broadcaster Radio 1.

Every year, almost 2000 people are admitted to hospital for excessive use of the drug. The KNMP wants it’s sale limited to packets of 20.

“Research in England shows that hospital admissions fell drastically after this measure was introduced.” According to the spokesperson.

Legislation In 1998 legislation was introduced in England limiting the number of pills per pack sold in supermarkets and other shops to 16. Pharmacies were limited to selling 32 per pack. The measure was aimed at reducing the number of accidental deaths and suicides, which at the time was 200 per year. The number of hospital admittances due to paracetamol poisoning dropped substantially. Until 1998, paracetamol poisoning was the most common cause of acute liver failure.

The idea of reducing the number of pills in a box was to make it more difficult for people contemplating suicide to get hold of too many tablets easily.

Painful suicide Many people take overdoses of paracetamol in attempted suicides. Often this is a cry for help rather than a serious attempt to take one’s own life. In the case of paracetamol poisoning the stomach needs to be pumped within 4 hours to minimalise any liver and kidney damage. Liver damage can be extremely painful and can lead to death.

For years campaigners have called for paracetamol to be sold as with its antidote methiamol built into the tablet to prevent damage to the liver.


© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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