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Children's paracetamol liquid returns to front-of-counter, but supply limits remain

1 July 2020

The Medicine Shortages Working Party has agreed that pharmacies can return children's paracetamol liquid formulations to front-of-counter, as demand for these products has eased. However, members have agreed that one unit limits on sales should remain in place.

Pharmacists are encouraged to use signage to indicate to customers that purchases of these products will be limited to one unit.

Dispensing and supply limits for certain other prescription and over-the-counter medicines should also remain in place. The continuing need for the limits to ensure equitable access and continued supply will be regularly reviewed. Pharmacists may identify circumstances when it is appropriate to provide increased quantities, according to their professional judgement. Unnecessary stockpiling of medicines should be discouraged.

Supply limits and the requirement to place paediatric paracetamol behind the counter were introduced in March 2020 in response to a sharp increase in demand that resulted in local out-of-stocks. The Department of Health, through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has been working with pharmaceutical companies and wholesalers to monitor supply of paracetamol paediatric formulations. Demand for these products has now eased, and pharmaceutical companies are anticipating continuous supply.

The TGA has also approved temporary supply of an alternative, unregistered paediatric paracetamol product to support continuing access to children's paracetamol formulations for Australian consumers. The alternative brand, Tylenol, must be stored behind pharmacy counters as the strength differs from other brands available in Australia. Pharmacists will confirm dosing instructions with parents and caregivers for these products.