Poisoning Yourself With Paracetamol Has Never Been Easier

Before you think we’ve all gone mad here at the Company and given up our plans to survive as a group until Mankind is exploiting Mars resources let me be clear that we don’t think anyone should poison themselves with Paracetamol. You’ve all seen those great web posts where they mock bizarre laws from the past that no longer apply. I have no idea if any of them are true but I won’t be heading down to the border and trying to shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow as he tries to row across the river to England to find out. The police have some pretty big guns these days and I don’t fancy getting shot testing out a vintage law. What might surprise you, though, is that even more ridiculous laws have been created recently in England and one of them concerns Paracetamol.


How Many Paracetamol Do You Need To Buy to Kill Yourself?

What’s the Law In England Relating to Paracetamol Purchase?

Let’s start by covering what the actual law covers. The Daily Mail covered it pretty well in a tragic article which highlights what the law is meant to prevent – suicide by paracetamol. The problem is it combines a law which bans the purchase of over 100 paracetamol without a prescription with a voluntary code of conduct that prevents consumers from buying more than 32 tablets (two packs) in one single transaction. Both 32 and 100 would be plenty to cause permanent damage and probably kill you. Paracetamol is ‘everyone’s favourite’ for committing suicide in the UK. So we’re all in agreement that this law makes sense – let’s make sure people don’t have tons of the stuff laid about at home that they don’t really need just in case.

People Who Run Big Retail Chains Aren’t Always That Smart

Pharmacists are smart. If I wander into Boots and go to the main counter and ask for 200 paracetamol the chap is likely to advise that I need a prescription and suggest that 32 is a more sensible number. If, however, I walk into a certain well known discount (pound store type) chain in the UK and throw a ton of paracetamol containing products into my basket and wander to the till the combination of dumb employee and dumb rule combines with hilarity. Well it would be hilarious if people weren’t busy killing themselves with what turns out to be a pretty rubbish painkiller in the first place but that’s a story for another day.

Cashier: I’m sorry sir all of these contain Paracetamol. So I can only sell you two packs.

Me: Are you sure — there must be something we can do? I really want a lot of Paracetamol for some reason even though I don’t have a cold or a headache. I think I just like to stock up if you know what I mean.

Cashier: Don’t worry sir – it’s just our till that stops me selling it to you. I can put it through as some separate transactions for you.

The Way Forward For Paracetamol and Retail Guidelines Generally

Well it’s pretty clear that ‘guidelines’ are little understood by retail staff who think they are doing you a favour by shipping you a bunch of some drug you don’t even need and their owners have ‘voluntarily’ agreed to restrict. What’s also clear is that 100 paracetamol might not be a safe amount to allow to be sold without prescription? Otherwise why do we have the guideline in place? So either allow all shops to sell 100 without doing some weird till nonsense or change the legal maximum to a safe level. This situation of ‘a bit of both’ where the public believe 100 of those bad boys is ‘safe enough’ to chuck in the cupboard and stores clerks have no idea what the rules even are is a bit silly to say the least.

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