Paracetamol availability in pharmacy and non-pharmacy outlets in Dublin, Ireland
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In 2004, there were 11,092 presentations to Irish hospitals with deliberate self-harm, including 7,933 cases of drug overdose, of which 31% involved paracetamol. Limiting the availability of paracetamol reduces morbidity and mortality associated with paracetamol overdose.
The present study aimed to determine the level of compliance with statutory regulations governing the sale of paracetamol in Ireland.
Researchers visited pharmacy (n = 20) and non-pharmacy outlets (newsagents, mini-markets and supermarkets) (n = 50) in Dublin city and attempted to purchase amounts of paracetamol that exceeded the statutory limits for a single transaction.
Amounts of paracetamol in excess of statutory limits for a single transaction were purchased in 50.0% of pharmacies, 81.8% of newsagents/mini-markets and 20.0% of supermarkets. One year later, we again visited pharmacy (n = 20) and non-pharmacy outlets (n = 50) in Dublin city and purchased amounts of paracetamol in excess of statutory limits in 50.0% of pharmacies, 52.3% of newsagents/mini-markets and 10.0% of supermarkets.
We recommend that (a) notwithstanding the improvement in compliance rates in newsagents/mini-markets, the sale of paracetamol in these outlets should be discontinued; (b) the sale of paracetamol in supermarkets should continue, although automated checkout tills should be appropriately re-programmed; and (c) there should be greater efforts to ensure compliance with statutory regulations in pharmacies.