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Independent expert panel report

This report was commissioned by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in response to concerns of increasing prevalence of intentional paracetamol poisoning, especially among young people, and involving paracetamol obtained via general sale in supermarkets and convenience stores. In these settings, there is not the healthcare professional oversight that is available in pharmacies. The report was commissioned to guide their considerations of whether any changes to the scheduling of paracetamol, such as access controls, may be warranted.  

Specifically the report aims to:

  • Provide an overview of clinical aspects of paracetamol toxicity and current treatment.
  • Examine contemporary Australian data on the burden of paracetamol poisoning from a range of sources, identifying high risk groups for poisoning and toxicity.
  • Review relevant literature on the burden of paracetamol poisoning internationally and how this has tracked in relation to access, including any recent regulatory changes.
  • Review relevant literature on options for and effectiveness of restrictions and other strategies to reduce harms.
  • Review relevant literature on the intent and underlying social/psychiatric issues experienced by those engaging in paracetamol self-poisoning to inform whether other strategies to reduce harms from intentional self-poisoning are needed.
  • Critically analyse the balance of the benefits and risks of the current access to paracetamol on the Australian market in relation to intentional self-poisoning, particularly in regard to paracetamol available by general sale.
  • Discuss the possible outcomes in the community of restricting general sale access or purchasing controls to paracetamol, including deliberate self-poisoning with other medicines.

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