However, top-level bodies of GPs and pharmacists were more open to some proposals, notably reducing pack sizes and banning the sale of painkillers to under-18s in supermarkets.
Buckley said the key is to reduce household drug stockpiling. A survey of people who had poisoned themselves with paracetamol, conducted by the NSW Poisons Information Center, found that only 10 per cent had recently purchased the painkillers.
“People don’t go to the supermarket on impulse. It’s people who impulsively go to the closet,” he said.
Helen Christensen, a research professor of mental health at UNSW and executive director of the Black Dog Institute, who was also an author of the report, agreed that restraint is an important part of tackling self-harm. She was concerned about families storing large amounts of a range of medicines at home.
“And we are also working very hard to reach an agreement on restricting access to paracetamol for supermarkets aged 18 and over, as evidence shows it would reduce overdose among young people,” she added.
The preliminary results of a survey of more than 6,500 Australian 8th graders conducted by Black Dog between 2019 and 2021.
“In general, girls tend to have more anxiety and depression, while boys use more drugs and alcohol,” Christensen said of the results.
While the survey, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, didn’t ask participants specifically about acetaminophen use, Christensen said it could be a question when the cohort is surveyed again in five years.
Professor John Skerritt, TGA’s chief medical adviser, speaking at a hearing on Senate estimates on Thursday, stressed that the regulator had “no preferred outcome” for Friday’s session.
“We’ve lined up a number of possible options to get feedback on this,” he said. “We’re not advocating any of those options, we’re trying to get feedback on them.”
An interim decision on the proposals is expected next year, with changes not expected to be implemented before the end of 2023.
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