Countdown limits paracetamol sale after fatal overdose

A month ago, drug-buying agency Pharmac wrote to the country’s pharmacists instructing them to...
Countdown’s head pharmacist, Jeremy Armes, said Countdown had been looking at the issue and how it could help make the sale of the country’s most popular medicine safer. Photo: Getty Images
Countdown supermarkets will limit the sale of paracetamol following the overdose death of a Dunedin student.

Countdown today announced stores nationwide will limit the sale of paracetamol, and items containing paracetamol, to one pack per customer.

The move follows findings released by coroner David Robinson into the death of Alannah Lee Spankie (20), who died from acute liver failure in June 2017.

The University of Otago science student had taken a large amount of paracetamol before being found unresponsive three days later by her flatmates.

Mr Robinson ruled Spankie did not intend to take her own life.

He recommended a limit on paracetamol products 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 Countdown had been looking at the issue and how it could help make the sale of the country’s most popular medicine safer.

“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.  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.''

About three million prescriptions for paracetamol are written and more than 50 million tablets used per year across Aotearoa.

 - by Daisy Hudson

 

 

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