Retailers and parents warned to watch the dosage.
Take care when selling and using pain killers and cold remedies warns Gloucestershire County Council and safety watchdog.
As the Nation copes with the latest flu outbreak, Gloucestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Service and the Avonsafe Safety Partnership have issued a warning to retailers, patients and parents to take special care with the sale, use and storage of medicines for pain relief.
This advice follows a survey carried out on the supply of painkillers from various retailers in Gloucestershire and neighbouring counties.
Guidelines issued by the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) state that retailers should not sell more than two packets of painkillers at a time. The restriction is designed to limit availability of such painkillers to consumers to reduce the risk of overdose.
Eddie Coventry, Head of Gloucestershire Trading Standards, said: “Shockingly the survey found that 50% of stores visited sold more than the recommended number of packs with one premise supplying 8 packs containing a total of 128 tablets. This is more than enough to cause serious liver damage or death”.
Trading Standards Officers also found that some stores are unaware of the overlap with other products such as powdered cold and flu remedies, cough syrups and children’s liquid medicines which may also contain painkillers. This lack of awareness means it is easy to overdose when mixing medicines unless you read the instructions carefully. Young children are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of overdose.
Angela Clarke, Chair of Avonsafe (South West) said: “Young children can easily take too much if they get hold of pills and the sweet tasting liquids they like the taste of. We may all underestimate the hazard posed by common painkillers. They are safe and effective in the stated dose, but we need to lock them away safely immediately after purchase and use and never keep them in handbags or anywhere children can find them”.
Last year, 450 children were taken to casualty in the south west suffering from accidental poisoning. Angela said “Many sick children and trips to Casualty could have been avoided by keeping small objects out of reach and storing products that contain Paracetamol and aspirin safely, especially at this time of year when they are more likely to be used in treating colds and flu”.