Countdown to limit sales of paracetamol after coroner’s report

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Supermarket chain Countdown is limiting the sale of products containing paracetamol to one pack per customer.


File photo. Photo: 123RF

The change follows a recent report by coroner David Robinson, which recommended a limit be introduced to help reduce the risk of overdose.

In New Zealand, supermarkets can legally sell paracetamol without any limit on how many packets people can buy at one time.

Countdown’s head pharmacist, Jeremy Armes, said that there had been internal discussions around putting purchase limits in place for some time.

“Paracetamol is an incredibly useful and effective medicine, but as with all medicines it also needs to be respected and treated with care,” he said.

“Where a customer may wish to buy larger quantities of paracetamol or items containing paracetamol, we think this is best sold in a pharmacy environment where a pharmacist can talk through the proper use of paracetamol and risks one-on-one.

“There is no doubt that mental health awareness, education and good medical support are going to make the biggest difference for Kiwis suffering with mental illness.

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“However there are also significant and sometimes tragic consequences of overdose, whether that is accidental or intentional. Anything we can do to reduce this risk is important,” he said.

Countdown said paracetamol is the country’s most popular medicine, with about 3 million prescriptions written and more than 50m tablets used a year across Aotearoa.

Customers needing chronic and long-term pain relief can be prescribed larger quantities from their GP or visit a Countdown Pharmacy in-store or online.

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