Non-pharmacy retailers ignore selling guidelines for paracetamol and aspirin, study shows

Secret shopper study reveals more than half of retailers sold more than the recommended quantity of paracetamol or aspirin in one transaction.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency should bring punitive measures on offending retailers into line with those for alcohol and tobacco mis-selling. In the image, shelves of paracetamol in a UK supermarket

Since the introduction of UK guidelines limiting the number of painkiller packs sold to individual customers, the rate of paracetamol deaths in the UK has reduced.

But a study has found that many non-pharmacy retailers, such as supermarkets and bargain shops, are not following this guidance and some are willing to break the law.

Researchers sent secret shoppers to 62 outlets and found that 58% and 57% of retailers sold more than the recommended quantity of paracetamol (32 x 500 mg) or aspirin (32 x 300 mg), respectively, in one transaction. And 5% of retailers were willing to sell more than 100 paracetamol tablets, exceeding the legal limit for one transaction.

Writing in BMJ Open
[1]
 (online, 18 January 2016), the team says retail staff should be better trained and that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency should bring punitive measures on offending retailers into line with those for alcohol and tobacco misselling.

References

[1] Molloy P, Chambers R & Cork T. How well are national guidelines relating to the general sales of aspirin and paracetamol, adhered to by retail stores: a mystery shopper study. BMJ Open 2016;6:e010081. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010081

Last updated
Citation
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, February 2016, Vol 8, No 2;8(2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20200572