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NPA urges 'vigilance' over paracetamol abuse concerns

NPA head of pharmacy services Leyla Hannbeck says staff should be wary when selling the drug following reports of young people challenging each other to take excessive amounts

The NPA has warned pharmacy staff to be “vigilant” for young patients daring each other to take large amounts of paracetamol.

Staff should take care when selling the painkiller, in response to reports of an alleged trend for young people to challenge each other on social media to take the drug, head of pharmacy services Leyla Hannbeck said in an open letter to members on Monday (June 1).

The "paracetamol challenge" received widespread media coverage last week, including a Daily Mail article on May 26 warning of the risks. The "dangerous internet fad" had resulted in a teenager being hospitalised in Ayrshire, Scotland, the newspaper claimed on its website. 

East Ayrshire Council told C+D it had notified police, schools and parents about the "craze" in March. The council would not confirm the number of school pupils that had been affected at the time or any medical information.

Police warning

Last month, Coatbridge Police in Scotland tweeted using the hashtag #paracetamolchallenge to warn the public "not to get involved in this" because it could result in "liver and kidney failure".

Ms Hannbeck told C+D that the NPA had issued its own advice after being alerted to the conversations taking place about the challenge on social media. She urged counter staff to be aware of this “potentially dangerous activity” and to ask appropriate clinical questions before selling paracetamol, particularly to young people.

Ms Hannbeck recommended that pharmacists also approached local schools to “alert them to the dangers of taking excessive amounts of paracetamol”. Patients should be reminded to follow dosage guidelines and be wary of taking the drug with other products such as cold and flu remedies, she added.
 


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