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Pack-size legislation reduces severity of paracetamol overdoses in Ireland

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Legislation was introduced in Ireland in October 2001 to control the sale of paracetamol in non-pharmacy outlets. Preparations are now limited to 12 tablets per pack and only one pack can be sold per transaction.


To assess the impact of this legislation on acute deliberate paracetamol overdoses.


We reviewed acute deliberate paracetamol overdoses reported during two 24-months periods before and after October 2001. We grouped cases according to the number of tablets taken and compared the periods using chi-square and Mann-Whitney tests.


The number of tablets taken in acute deliberate paracetamol overdose fell significantly after October 2001 (χ2 = 11.663, P=0.0029). Fewer cases involved 12–24 tablets (U = 74, P < 0.001) and fewer cases involved more than 24 tablets (U = 131.5, P = 0.0006)


Legislation controlling sale and packaging of paracetamol preparations appears to be associated with a significant fall in the number of tablets taken in acute deliberate paracetamol overdoses.

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Correspondence to E. Donohoe.

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Donohoe, E., Walsh, N. & Tracey, J.A. Pack-size legislation reduces severity of paracetamol overdoses in Ireland. Ir J Med Sci 175, 40–42 (2006).

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