Safe sales of paracetamol

Paracetamol web

A new campaign targeted at staff in pharmacy and retail settings, aims to remind them of the restrictions on the sales of paracetamol-containing medications that they should always know and follow. It is has been developed to promote the safe sales of paracetamol, from a self-harm and suicide prevention perspective – and to reduce the incidence of paracetamol-related intentional drug overdose in Ireland.

As part of this campaign, new information packs are now available to order. They contain informative posters and postcards suitable for display in staff areas or noticeboards. They also contain shelf-riders/stickers that might be suitable for public-facing or staff-facing display units where paracetamol-containing products are displayed. Additional icons are available in .jpg and .png formats that could be suitable for inclusion on, for example websites, or email signatures.

Safe paracetamol 1

Two versions of information packs are available – one for Pharmacy retail settings and staff, and one for non-Pharmacy general retail settings and online (for example convenience stores, supermarkets, service stations).

These information packs are now available:

More information

Download a folder containing images for social media, and suggested social messaging supporting this campaign.

Contact the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) at if:

  • You would like to adapt any of these materials for other uses (for example incorporating the information with your own branding or pharmacy signage), or
  • You have any questions or feedback on these information packs.

More detailed information on the sale of paracetamol containing products by non-pharmacy retailers is available from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

Support information

If you – or someone you know – needs mental health support or a listening ear, reach out to a trusted service. Many are available 24/7 and you can make contact in different ways, for example:

  • on the phone – Samaritans – freephone 116 123
  • by text message - Text About It – text HELLO to 50808
  • online – MyMind
  • face-to-face – Pieta – freephone 1800 247 247

You can also call the HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line, anytime day or night, for information on mental health, and what other services and supports are available near you. Freephone 1800 111 888 or visit

Background to this campaign

Paracetamol is the drug most frequently used in intentional drug overdose (IDO) in many countries. Its use in IDO is highest among young people (<25 years) and there is evidence of its incidence increasing in countries including Ireland (Daly, C., Griffin, E., McMahon, E. et al. Paracetamol-related intentional drug overdose among young people: a national registry study of characteristics, incidence and trends, 2007–2018. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 56, 773–781 (2021).

In response to this, a paracetamol Working Group led by the Department of Health was established in 2021 to decipher next steps to prevent intentional paracetamol overdose in Ireland. This works supports the implementation Connecting for Life, Ireland's National Strategy to Reduce Suicide (2015-2024), and specifically action 6.1.2, ‘continue improvements in adherence to the legislation limiting access to paracetamol through raising awareness amongst retailers and the public and the use of point of-sale systems.’

Safe paracetamol 1

This Working Group is led by the Department of Health (Chair), the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), and National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) – with membership including the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The Group aims to enhance information and support training development for pharmacy and non-pharmacy retail sector staff, collaborate on preventative interventions, and support actions required following market surveillance work. Pictured above at the launch of the campaign are (from left to right), Prof Philip Dodd (Mental Health Unit, Department of Health), Dr Eve Griffin (National Suicide Research Foundation), Minister Mary Butler TD (Minister for Mental Health and Older People), Ciarán Austin (HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention), Anne Marie Seymour (Medicines Unit, Department of Health) and Dr Susan O’Dwyer (Irish Pharmacy Union).

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