‘Paracetamol must be used with caution’: A warning for Filipinos amid demand spike

January 5, 2022 - 6:47 PM
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A Filipino holding a blister pack of Paracetamol. (The STAR/Ernie Penaredondo)

“Paracetamol does not treat the cause of fever.”

A doctor from the Philippine General Hospital issued this warning to the public amid the recent rise in the demand for fever medicine paracetamol in pharmacies.

Olivia Camille Reyes, a pediatric emergency consultant at PGH, warned that paracetamol can cause liver toxicity and even death when consumed in large quantities.

Her post was shared on PGH’s official Facebook page.

“Paracetamol does not treat the cause of fever. While it is an OTC (over-the-counter) formulation, it is one of the most abused, overused drugs that is frequently among the top causes of drug overdose,” Reyes said.

“When consumed in large amounts, it has the potential to cause liver toxicity, and even death,” she added.

There are certain conditions or symptoms that paracetamol is meant to be used for.

“It should only be used to treat pain or fever causing discomfort and added strain for very sick people. Even then, paracetamol must be used with caution,” she said.

It is also not meant to prevent fever. She advised that a doctor must be immediately consulted if conditions worsen.

“It’s safe to give a dose or two as FIRST-AID as directed by the PRODUCT insert (especially for children), but please consult with your doctor thereafter. If it’s taken for FEVER, INVESTIGATION of the CAUSE, as well as the ASSESSMENT of the SEVERITY OF ILLNESS MUST TAKE PRECEDENCE,” the doctor said.

One Reddit user posted a meme that showed the dominating trends during the pandemic years starting from 2020.

The user suggested that Biogesic, a paracetamol brand, is the trend in the Philippines this 2022, following dalgona coffee and air fryer which became the “in” things in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Some Filipinos previously reported some drug stores declaring out-of-stock of brands of Biogesic, Neozep and Decolgen and other pain relievers.

READ: ‘Out of stock’ paracetamol supplies in pharmacies? DOH, DTI deny reported shortage 

UNILAB, the country’s largest pharmaceutical company, advised the public that some of their products in stores are in short supply.

“This is to inform the public that some of our brands are temporarily out-of-stock in select drug stores due to extraordinary demand. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused,” UNILAB said.

The Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry, however, had claimed that there was enough stock of paracetamol, particularly of generic brands, in the market.