Availability of Paracetamol Sold Over the Counter in Europe: A Descriptive Cross-Sectional International Survey of Pack Size Restriction

Britt Reuter Morthorst, Annette Erlangsen, Merete Nordentoft, Keith Hawton, Lotte Christine Groth Hoegberg, Kim Peder Dalhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Due to the risk of hepatotoxicity when excessive amounts of paracetamol are consumed, Poisons Information Centers (PICs) frequently receive paracetamol-related enquiries. This study examined how widely pack size restrictions of paracetamol sold over the counter have been implemented in Europe and also availability of paracetamol through non-pharmacy outlets and their possible associations with frequency of poisoning enquiries. A cross-sectional European multi-centre questionnaire study was performed using a questionnaire to identify the extent and nature of paracetamol pack size restrictions, non-pharmacy outlet sales and the frequency of paracetamol-related enquiries to PICs. In total, 21 European countries participated. All PICs provided telephone hotline services. In 14 (67%) countries, pack size restrictions had been implemented in pharmacies (range: 8–30 g). No significant difference (median difference 0.7%, p-value = 0.36) was found when comparing median frequencies of paracetamol-related enquiries in countries with pack size restriction to countries without restrictions. A significantly lower median frequency of paracetamol-related enquiries was found in countries without non-pharmacy outlet sales compared to those with such sales (median difference 2.2%, p = 0.02). Pack size restrictions on pharmacy sales of paracetamol have been implemented in two-thirds of examined countries. There was no difference in the proportion of paracetamol-related enquiries to PICs among countries with and without pack size restrictions. However, a lower rate of paracetamol-related enquiries was noted in countries where paracetamol was not available in non-pharmacy outlets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-649
Number of pages7
JournalBasic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology
Volume122
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology

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