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Editor,—Paracetamol is the most common drug used for deliberate self poisoning in adolescents.1
Recent legislation in the United Kingdom has limited the number of paracetamol tablets available in a single purchase. We wish to draw attention to another area where we believe legislation might be helpful.
An 11 year old boy was admitted to our care following a deliberate overdose of paracetamol tablets. After a period of observation, and assessment by the child psychiatry team, he was discharged from hospital. He returned a few hours later having taken a further overdose of paracetamol tablets which he had purchased, legally, at a local pharmacy.
English law sets lower age limits for the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes. It seems anomalous that there is no restriction on the age at which a child can purchase a potentially fatal over the counter drug. We recognise that someone with sufficient determination can always circumvent legal obstacles. Nevertheless we believe that reducing the ease of availability of drugs containing paracetamol to children under 16 years might help lessen the numbers of children and young teenagers now using this dangerous route to draw attention to their problems.
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