Paracetamol poisons 8000 per year

Many of us don’t think twice about popping a couple of paracetamol for aches and pains, but with a new study reporting that 8000 Australians are poisoned each year with the drug, it’s worth considering if you really need them before taking.

Professor Andris Gaudins, Emergency medicine expert at Monash University said he was alerted to the wide reach of paracetamol after review figures of those who attended the emergency department of Monash Hospital. His paper, which was published in the journal, Emergency Medicine Australasia, says that one of the issues is the slow release version of the drug designed for those in constant pain, such as arthritis sufferers. Patients thinking that the drug is not working maybe tempted to take more than recommended and when the release of the drug kicks in, the concentration of the paracetamol may become a dangerous factor.

There is also the belief that paracetamol is a harmless pain killer, with no lasting side effects, so if pain persists, people may be tempted to take more, or take for longer than recommended. While supermarkets are restricted to the packet sizes they can sell, pharmacies can sell large pack sizes of almost 100 tablets, although those who buy such large packets are counselled on the effects. Paracetamol poisoning by taking too many can lead to acute liver disease, or indeed, death in extreme cases.

You can find out more about the signs of paracetamol toxicity and what you should do if you think you have taken too many pills at