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Restrictions on sale of paracetamol imminent
[Posted: Tue 31/10/2000 www.irishhealth.com]
Sales of paracetamol are to be limited by the Department of Health. Currently the painkiller can legally be bought in any amount without prescription, although the Irish Medicines Board advises retailers and pharmacists to exercise discretion.
The new legislation is being introduced under the Irish Medicines Board Act of 1995, and is expected to comply with the existing IMB recommendations of selling paracetamol in packs of 12.
Pharmacies would be allowed to sell more, but for more than 50 tablets a prescription would be required. The law is expected to be introduced before the end of the year.
The drug, which was implicated in nearly 1,500 overdose cases in Ireland last year, can cause liver damage, coma and death if taken in large amounts. Lobby groups, including the Irish Association of Suicidology, have been urging restrictions on paracetamol sales in order to cut the level of unpremeditated suicide attempts.
Two weeks ago, researchers at Queen's University Belfast established that selling paracetamol in smaller packs does lower the rate of attempted suicide. The UK introduced limits of paracetamol sales in 1998.
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