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Fransplaining Science: Is paracetamol doing more harm than good?

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NadiaFreeman2 months ago

I am pleased that our article (Freeman & Quigley, 2015) was referenced but given the serious nature of the issue it is important to point out the error here, our article does not 'call for age restrictions' but suggests that age restrictions should be explored. Age restrictions may not be an ideal as it creates barriers to access to affordable medications. Instead, it strongly recommended multiple times throughout the article, the need to consider reducing the packet size of Paracetamol to below 16g in pharmacies and 8g in other outlets (as in the UK), to below be below the minimum threshold for toxicity investigation. Noting that there are currently no restrictions on how much is in one packet in pharmacies in NZ, and there is continuous advocacy from the industry to increase the packet size in supermarkets in NZ. Reducing the quantity of Paracetamol in packets may be an effective step to reduce the number of deaths and hospitalization caused by paracetamol overdose. Thank you, Nadia Freeman

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Max Dillon Coyleabout 2 months ago

What do we take instead when we would normally take a panadol?


2 months ago

"The “placebo effect” is very real - people show genuine, significant, measurable signs of improvement simply by thinking they’ve taken a drug. This amazing phenomenon may demonstrate the power of our minds to induce real changes within our bodies"

My understanding of placebo effects is they don't actually induce physiological changes that result in some sort of healing. Rather they are made up of things like the following (taken from a post on

1. Regression to the mean - any treatment you take when your symptoms are at their peak is likely by chance alone to be followed by a period of less intense symptoms.

2. Self-limiting illnesses - you may get better even if you do nothing – so anything you do will be followed by improvement.

3. Biases in reporting subjective symptoms - people want to feel better so they think they are, or they may want to 'please' their physician by reporting improvement. Things like hope, the effect of being treated and 'fussed over' by medical personnel may make people feel better etc.

"Because it is often believed that “the” placebo effect is one thing, that one thing is often believed to be a real mind-over-matter physical healing. There is no evidence to support this interpretation, however."


What are your thoughts?


Jenny Hodderabout 2 months ago

After I had knee arthroscopy I was prescribed a huge box of paracetemol (and a huge box of ibuprofen, and a box of Tramadol). I used it for a day or two, although I suspect didn't really need it. I used none of the Tramadol. ACC were paying, but I'd prefer my taxes didn't get wasted


Stephen Head2 months ago

As a senior Registered Nurse with more than 20 years of experience administering paracetamol within the environment's of Aged Care facilities plus medical wards, surgical wards, acute care and emergency rooms of tertiary and rural hospitals, I can only argue that with the controlled dispensing of this drug its use as a low level analgesic for certain types of pain can be very effective and entirely appropriate.

Is paracetamol a safe drug? If misused, it isn't. What makes paracetamol stand out from perhaps 99.9% of all other drugs (prescribed or illicit), is they can all be toxic and dangerous if misused. The main difference is paracetamol being ready availability off supermarket shelves. In relatively small doses, paracetamol has the potential to cause irreparable damage to a person's liver and kidneys, with death likely to follow. Also, there is only a relatively narrow window of opportunity in which it may be possible to try and reverse such damage through some pretty intense medical intervention.

I cannot agree entirely with Dr. Schumacher's suggestion ".. we all find a new go to drug to take". Any more than paracetamol is an unsafe drug, if misused; any drug (read toxic substance) is just as unsafe drug if it is misused.


Wendy Kayabout 2 months ago

Are there other “go to” drugs which are safer? Alternative pain killers may be potentially just as harmful eg risks also associated with ibuprofen - GI ulcers, asthma, renal and hepatic damage and addictive risks with codeine.

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