The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced a significant alteration to paracetamol-based medications to decrease the likelihood of household stockpile overdoses. The decision comes after a review of the drug’s use and impact. The new regulation will limit the number of tablets or capsules available for purchase in a pack, affecting commonly used drugs such as Panadol, Panamax, and Chemists’ Own.
Starting in February 2025, the maximum size of paracetamol packs available for purchase in supermarkets and convenience stores will decrease from 20 to 16 tablets. Additionally, the maximum size of paracetamol packs that pharmacists can dispense will be reduced from 100 to 50 tablets, and any packs larger than this will require a pharmacist’s authorization.
The decision to limit pack sizes aims to reduce the number of intentional paracetamol overdoses, which hospitalize 225 Australians and cause 50 deaths in the country each year due to self-poisoning from paracetamol. According to research, most impulsive overdose incidents use paracetamol already present in the home. By reducing pack sizes, the TGA hopes to reduce these occurrences while still providing access to the drug for appropriate pain relief use.
The change has been in progress for several years, and the TGA will continue to provide educational information on the dangers of paracetamol consumption to mitigate risks. This announcement comes after an interim decision in February was overhauled. Liquid and prescription-only paracetamol will not be affected by the new regulations.