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UK Government Aims to Restrict Paracetamol Sales to Curb Suicides

Tuesday, September 12, 2023 • Tamil Comments
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The UK government is taking steps to limit the accessibility of over-the-counter paracetamol-containing drugs as part of its National Suicide Prevention Strategy, which aims to address the stagnation in suicide rate reduction since 2018. This strategy also proposes the establishment of a national alert system to inform schools and colleges about new suicide methods. The previous suicide prevention strategy was published more than a decade ago.

Medical experts have been called upon to assess whether reducing the availability of paracetamol in stores could help lower suicide rates in the UK. Currently, individuals are allowed to purchase a maximum of two packets of paracetamol-containing medication, typically amounting to 16 tablets of 500mg each. The government has requested the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to explore further restrictions.

UK ministers have committed to reducing suicide rates in England within two and a half years. A 2018 study by Cambridge University Press revealed that paracetamol is the most commonly used drug for self-poisoning in the UK and is associated with fatal liver damage. The study analyzed data from 80 hospital patients, incorporating structured interviews, depression and suicidal intent assessments, information from the Oxford Monitoring System for Attempted Suicide, and liver function test results.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), over 5,000 people die by suicide annually in the UK, with more than 200,000 monthly calls to crisis hotlines. This move to limit access to paracetamol-containing drugs is part of a broader effort to curb self-poisoning and reduce suicide rates in the country.

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