Paracetamol overdoses are responsible for more than half of all acute liver failure cases in Australia. 52% of admissions to liver transplant centres are attributed to paracetamol overdoses. This is in comparison to New Zealand where the rate is just 10%. In a study by ICU doctors, published in Critical Care and Resuscitation Journal, about a quarter of paracetamol overdose patients died in hospital.
Findings from the Medical Journal of Australia show that the rate of toxic liver disease attributable to paracetamol misuse is rising by almost 8% every year. Unlike many European countries, supermarkets in Australia can sell 20-packs of 500mg tablets of paracetamol. There is no way to prevent customers buying multiple packs.
Dr Rose Cairns (PhD) says restrictions of pack sizes are necessary. “Literature shows that restrictions o pack sizes do work, including the UK data what shows the smaller pack sizes introduced in the 1990s had an effect in reducing liver unit admissions.”