With the West Midlands being designated a swine flu hot spot, Michael
Fabricant has called on the Government to lift the cap on the amount of
paracetamol, aspirin, and other similar medicines that can be bought
over the counter.
"I am aware that in some cases there has been drug abuse with these
common medicines. But with the number of swine flu infections
increasing in the West Midlands and elsewhere, the Government should
lift the restriction on the amount of simple antipyretics, drugs which
reduce fever, that can be sold over the counter at any one time.
"Not everyone has a ‘flu buddy’ to do the shopping for them. Even that
flu buddy might unwittingly be spreading the disease. Fewer visits to
supermarkets and chemists would help limit the spread of swine flu. And
I know that many sales assistants at supermarkets have been abused by
customers when they have been refused the sale of more than a handful of
But Gillian Merron the Minister for Public Health has poured cold water
on this proposal. In a Parliamentary written answer to Michael
Fabricant, she says: "There are no current plans to change this.
Antipyretics such as paracetamol and aspirin are available in packs of
16 tablets or capsules from general sale outlets such as supermarkets
and up to two packs can be purchased at any one time.
"Larger packs of 32 tablets or capsules are designated as pharmacy
medicines and are sold by or under the supervision of a pharmacist.
Pharmacists have the professional discretion to sell up to 100 tablets
or capsules without a prescription if they consider this is in the best
interests of the patient. The need for professional advice and
supervision when supplying these medicines does not reduce during a
Michael Fabricant says "I am disappointed by that response. Most people
buying aspirin, paracetamol, and similar medicines do not abuse the
drug. Education as to how to best use common drugs is the answer – not
the nanny state while we face a flu pandemic on the scale of the present