People are hoarding paracetamol in France amid coronavirus ‘hysteria’
France’s ANSM medicine agency has also suspended sales on the Internet of medicines based on paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin.
France has limited sales of paracetamol-based drugs as people who fear coronavirus infection raided pharmacies to stockpile the drug. It comes as the number of confirmed cases in the country reached 7,730 and the death toll rose to 175.
France’s ANSM medicine agency said that while paracetamol-based medicine is useful to alleviate aches and fevers in case of coronavirus infection, people should not unnecessarily buy large stocks of the drug.
ANSM said in a statement that in order to guarantee availability of the medicine, pharmacists can sell maximum one box of paracetamol (500 milligram or one gram) to people who do not have symptoms of coronavirus infection and maximum two boxes to patients who do have symptoms.
It also suspended sales on the Internet of medicines based on paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin.
ANSM said that in case of infection, paracetamol is better than anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and these can mask an infection and possibly worsen a patient’s condition.
The country’s Health Minister, Olivier Véran, who is a qualified doctor and neurologist, tweeted on Saturday: “The taking of anti-inflammatories [ibuprofen, cortisone … ] could be a factor in aggravating the infection. In case of fever, take paracetamol. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctor’s advice.”
Used well, paracetamol is a safe and efficient drug, the agency said, but it warned that an overdose of paracetamol can cause serious liver damage. Paracetamol is one of the world’s most common painkillers and is sold under different brand names.
Meanwhile, French citizens who leave home are needed to carry a document detailing the reasons why, with fines for transgressors to be set at $150. It comes after President Emmanuel Macron put the country on a war-footing, ordering the population to stay at home and only go out for essential trips.
Currently, more than 2,500 people in the country are being treated in hospitals, including 699 in intensive care.
On Tuesday, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte declared that the coronavirus epidemic was causing a "socio-economic tsunami" as European leaders agreed to seal off external borders and unveil economic stimulus to cushion the fallout from the infection's rapid spread.