Paracetamol pack size changes

28 August 2013

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28 August 2013 - With the imminent scheduling change to paracetamol from 1 September 2013, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has reaffirmed its commitment to adopting best practice in all aspects of analgesic use including issues such as labelling, packaging, dosage and availability of public information.

From 1 September 2013, the size of packs containing paracetamol that are available over-the-counter in supermarkets will reduce from 25 to 20 tablets.1 Consumers will need to visit a community pharmacy to purchase packs of the analgesic containing more than twenty 500mg tablets, capsules or caplets.1

This reduction in pack size will also impact cough and cold combination products which contain paracetamol.

The larger pack sizes available in pharmacies will not change.

"ASMI notes that the decision to reduce the paracetamol pack size was based on the premise that pack size was linked to the amount consumed in overdose. Although ASMI has reservations about this premise, we support any reasonable measure that minimises adverse reactions or the consequences of deliberate self-harm," said ASMI Regulatory & Scientific Affairs Director, Steve Scarff.

"Importantly for consumers, they will be able to continue to purchase appropriate quantities for pain relief in the convenient supermarket setting."
ASMI also highlighted that the scheduling change was prompted by an expert advisory committee's recommendation that Australia harmonise with New Zealand and restrict the exempt pack size requirements for paracetamol to packs containing 10 g or less of paracetamol.2

Worldwide, paracetamol has a long history of safe and effective use and has been available in Australia for more than 50 years, but like all medicines it must be taken only as directed.

The recommended paracetamol dosing for adults and children 12 years and over is 500 to 1000 mg every four to six hours as necessary, with a maximum of 4000 mg in any 24 hour period.3

"When taking a pain reliever, like any medicine, it is important that consumers adhere to approved dosing and warning statements on the pack. Consumers who have concerns about their medicines should seek advice from a healthcare professional," Mr Scarff continued.
Media contact: Michelle Sollitt-Davis - ASMI PR Manager
Ph: 02 9923 9410 | M: 0422 084 951 | Email:

About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak industry body for the Australian self care industry representing consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

1. Australian Government: Department of Health and Ageing. Therapeutics Goods Administration. Paracetamol: changes to pack size. 28 August 2013. Available at
2. Australian Government: Department of Health and Ageing. Therapeutics Goods Administration. Reasons for scheduling delegates' interim decisions & invitation for further comment. April 2012. Available at
3. Australian Government: Department of Health and Ageing. Therapeutics Goods Administration. Recommended paracetamol doses. Available at