It has come to my attention that the Swedish state want to restrict the sale of one of the most common forms of paracetamol to pharmacy shops. While I can see a case for limiting the size of paracetamol packs which can be sold without consulting a pharmacist I can not see a case for withdrawing the product from supermarkets. I would like to point out that I bought a pack of paracetamol for my wife less than one hour ago, the product was on an open shelf were someone could gain access to it without a pharmacist or other member of staff’s knowledge.
If the supermarkets are not to be trusted with this drug, then I have to say that the pharmacy shop needs to put it behind the counter out of reach of the public. The argument for controlling the public’s access to the drug is a public safety one, so I reason then that just because the shop selling it is a pharmacy shop it will not protect the general public from harm.
I reason that a self destructive person would be able to purchase plenty of paracetamol in a city such as Göteborg by going from one pharmacy to the next and buying only a small amount in each one. But there is an alternative solution, an overdose of paracetamol is dangerous because it causes liver damage. The classic treatment for an overdose of paracetamol is a dose of either of one of two amino acids. One of which is methionine which is used as a food additive for cats and dogs, to keep kitty and rover healthy many food makers add some of the amino acid to the food which is sold for pets. It has already been suggested in the UK that adding some of this amino acids to every paracetamol pill would greatly limit the number of paracetamol related deaths each year. The pros and cons of the addition of this amino acid to paracetamol pills has been the subject of some debate, I would be interested to know if the Swedish state (Läkemedelsverket) have considered the methionine option.
One method of dealing with the problem of long term methionine exposure in people who need to take paracetamol on a regular basis would be to issue only these people with the current methionine free paracetamol. Also the methionine containing pills could be used in some high risk populations such as prisons where the incidence of overdose is higher.