Warning: This article may be upsetting for some people.
A grieving mum whose late daughter overdosed on Panadol three times is outraged a supermarket has been promoting bulk sales of the painkiller drug.
"It's so irresponsible, I couldn't believe it ... if you could see through the eyes of a vulnerable person who is feeling overwhelmed you would never think of promoting Panadol like that," the Auckland mum who did not want to be named said.
The mum was shopping at Pak'nSave in Royal Oak, Auckland last week when she stumbled across the promotion.
Metres away from checkout, 20-tablet packets were being offered for $5 each and there was no limit on the number of boxes shoppers could buy.
"I felt a pit in my stomach. I was so incredibly stressed and overwhelmed that no one was acting for these vulnerable people."
Less than two years ago, her daughter had bought 300 tablets from that same supermarket before overdosing and ending up at a emergency department.
The mum stressed her 22-year-old daughter died from a separate medical incident and not from overdosing.
It comes after Countdown last September limited its sales of paracetamol to one packet following recommendations from a Coroner's report of a Dunedin student who died after a Panadol overdose.
Health Minister Andrew Little today urged non-pharmacy retailers to think about how they dispense Panadol, saying "Countdown did the right thing".
He said he understood that Medsafe was working with supermarket chains as part of an educational approach to ensure the safe sale and use of paracetamol.
"The advice I've had from the Ministry of Health is that Medsafe is considering this work."
Back in September, Foodstuffs - which owns New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square - said it was consulting regulators before making a decision about sale limits.
Today, a Foodstuffs spokesperson said it was still actively working with Government regulators to consider an appropriate way forward.
"The Government regulators are best placed to expertly advise on this matter, and we are currently awaiting their recommendations."
The spokesperson said it would take the mum's feedback and concerns on board when it considered a way forward.
"After the customer lodged a complaint directly with the store, a representative from Foodstuffs' Support Centre spoke to the customer directly regarding her concerns."
The mum said it was extremely disappointing that not only had Pak'nSave refused to action the coroner's recommendations but it continued to promote discounted prices for bulk buys of the painkiller drug.
Leading liver specialist Professor Ed Gane said paracetamol was effective and safe when taken at the recommended doses, which is up to two tablets up to four times a day for adults and less for children.
"If someone was going take a large amount of paracetamol, more than 20 tablets, then it can be harmful and can cause liver failure and kidney failure and both are sudden."
Gane said usually for young people who overdose on paracetamol it's a cry for help, they have acted on impulse and taken what's easily available.
"Anything you can do to make that more difficult is a good thing in terms of reducing the number of paracetamol overdoses.
"It was in the best interest of all supermarkets to limit the sales of paracetamol," Gane said.
Coroner David Robinson said in his report that a sales limit change in the United Kingdom reduced deaths related to the painkiller in England and Wales by 43 per cent.
Many European countries have introduced smaller pack sizes and prohibited sales of the painkiller outside pharmacies in a bid to save lives.
A Medsafe spokesperson said it recognises all medicines have an element of risk and that the Coroner's recommendation to restrict the sales of paracetamol was discussed at the 65th meeting of the Medicines Classification Committee (MCC) last year.
"As a result of the meeting, MCC has requested Medsafe continues consultation with the sector and give further consideration to a range of issues regarding the use of paracetamol."
The committee makes recommendations to the Minister of Health on medicine classification but said no recommendation has been given at this stage for a reclassification of paracetamol.
"We acknowledge Countdown's willingness for and support of safe access to medicines in our communities. Medsafe will be looking at any paracetamol promotions it becomes aware of, and what is being offered."
Where to get help:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.
If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
ASIAN HELPLINE: 0800 862 342 (they have language-appropriate support).