Government: STOP children purchasing PARACETAMOL

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We are currently raising awareness and accruing daily public support for government legislation to restrict the sale of paracetamol to children.

NHS figures show the number of children and young people self-harming has risen dramatically in the past 10 years. The number of girls under 18 who have needed hospital treatment after poisoning themselves has risen from 9,741 in 2005-06 to 13,853 – a rise of 42%.  Now, more than ever, we feel that the government needs to put preventative measures into place by prohibiting the sale of such a potentially toxic drug to children. 

Currently there are no legal guidelines with regard to selling paracetamol to children. We understand some retail outlets have their own specific company policies but unfortunately these policies are almost impossible to enforce. More than one supermarket has informed us that their self service tills, at present, have no warning flag message to alert a member of staff to the age restriction policy and therefore any child can pass through unchallenged. Waitrose supermarket has a policy which enables children from the age of twelve to purchase paracetamol. Should a child be self medicating at twelve? Monitoring their own pain management with a drug, which if used incorrectly, could result in an accidental overdose the consequences of which could be fatal.

As a society, we feel, we have a duty of care to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of a child or young person, we therefore believe that stores have a moral obligation and responsibility to children. Age restrictions apply to many products deemed unsafe to minors for example; scissors, matches, glue, razors, even chocolate liqueurs require proof of ID yet the sale of paracetamol has no government guidelines thus allowing their legal sale to children of all ages.

Paracetamol is a potent drug which in small doses can cause irreversible organ damage and death. Sadly what many children or in fact adults don't realise, is that after overdosing or self poisoning with paracetamol there are rarely any side effects and would-be suicides and self-harmers may take a handful of pills expecting to drift into a pleasant sleep, only to find that nothing happens. By the next day they may well have changed their minds about killing or poisoning themselves, but it’s too late: the drug, by then, is already doing its best to destroy their liver.
By the time they start feeling unwell they may be approaching the end of the (roughly) three-day window in which the antidote, acetylcysteine, can save them. Paracetamol is a hepatotoxin. As it is processed by the body, one of its metabolites starts to destroy the cells of the liver. After three days it's too late, no amount of medical intervention can help and a slow painful death ensues.

With children's mental health cases rising daily, access to means is a major issue in suicide prevention and self poisoning and we believe current government legislation needs an URGENT review and with your help we believe we can make this happen.