Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Desi Paracetamol Conundrum


Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner or an expert, observations shared in this post are based on research published by various news media outlets publicly.
“Indians take Paracetamol like Cadbury Gems.”

I have come across this meme statement on Twitter earlier and it is true in case of Indians consuming over the counter (OTC) paracetamol tablets for mild fever other common ailments like seasonal flu, body pain etc.

You should reconsider this habit because after COVID a specific paracetamol tablet has become a household name and I came across some articles which point towards possible risk of long term side effects which can impact our health. 
Some facts to consider from a recent 2020 study:

πŸ‘‰Widely sold paracetamol tablets contain Acetaminophen known to encourage risky behavior
πŸ‘‰Acetaminophen's effects on pain reduction also extend to various psychological processes:

✅ Lowering people's receptivity to hurt feelings
Experiencing reduced empathy
Even blunting cognitive functions
How does it encourage risky behavior? 

Feel less negative emotion when considering risky activities 

Increased risk-taking possibility due to reduced risk perceptions 

Impairing a person's ability to perceive and evaluate a risk situation effectively

The above observations don't make paracetamol tablet consumption unsafe. However, we come to the next part, where Indians have started consuming high-dose paracetamol tablets in general pre and post COVID

A study was conducted on paracetamol tablet sales data across 75 countries from 2007 to 2019

πŸ‘‰ Trends for India show we have increasingly moved from producing and consuming 500mg dosage towards 650mg dosage of paracetamol tablets.

πŸ‘‰1000mg is the max single dosage limit for an adult.

650mg dosage of paracetamol is not standard across many countries

For adults in the US, regular-strength paracetamol contains 325mg 

Extra-strength contains 500mg 

650mg is reserved for minor arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint pain.

500mg dosage of paracetamol is regulated in India for pricing. However, 650mg dosage is not 

Above points indicate that we might be unnecessarily consuming high dose paracetamol tablets as OTC medicine which could be coincidental considering the medical progress made over years OR a well thought business model which includes pharma companies, medical physicians, and pharmacy stores which puts the patient/consumer to a health risk in the long run.

Nevertheless, please ensure you always take any medicine, OTC or not under appropriate medical guidance and considering your age, other medical conditions etc. Do not rely on personal recommendations from friends and family in such cases.

We live in completely different times now and we are coming across cases where fit and healthy adults are passing away out of the blue with no serious medical history these days.


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