Paracetamol poisoning-related hospital admissions and deaths rising in Australia

5 Sep 2019

The latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) is now available, and features new research describing the alarming increase in the number of paracetamol-related poisonings, hospital admissions, and deaths after accidental or deliberate overdose in Australia.

Between 2007-08 and 2016-17, the annual number of paracetamol-related hospital admissions increased by 3.8% per year, with a concurrent increase in overdose size. Over 75% of these admissions were due to deliberate overdose.

The study suggested that public health measures that restrict the availability of paracetamol, such as reducing non-prescription pack sizes, are needed to reduce the risk of paracetamol overdose.

AMA president, Dr Tony Bartone, supported such public health measures, and said that Australia should look at the evidence from overseas where smaller pack sizes have led to a reduction in the amount of paracetamol overdosing and complications. 

“Panadol is a very safe drug, when used appropriately, within the recommendations,” Dr Bartone said.

“It should be probably put behind the counter, so that if you are needing large pack sizes, you are having a conversation with either the pharmacist or, if it's a regular ongoing pain, you really should think about an overarching management plan for your pain. And that's a conversation that requires a history-taking and assessment of all your other conditions and reasons behind that ongoing pain.”

Read the full study in the latest issue of MJA available here.

Read the full transcript of Dr Bartone’s interview on The Today Show here.