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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Calpol. Is this REALLY a safe drug to give to young children?

Calpol is a pharmaceutical drug that has been marketed to young children for decades. Most parents will use Calpol believing that it is completely safe, and indeed here is little general information available to say that it might be harmful, particularly as it is such a readily available 'over-the-counter' medication aimed specifically at children.
Yet Calpol is really Paracetamol, a NSAID painkiller, perhaps the most common pain-killing drug that is known to cause, amongst many other side effects, acute liver failure. So although there are warnings on the packets, such as "keep out of reach and sight of children" and "do not give any other products that contain paracetomol" it continues to be widely used with young children. The paper insert in Calpol packets gives instructions about when not to give the medicine, when to speak to a doctor or pharmacist after giving the medicine, and a section on ‘side-effects’ mentioning the following:
  • Skin rashes and other signs of allergy.
  • Becoming unusually tired, unexpected bruising or bleeding, and getting more infections than usual.
Liver and kidney damage is mentioned on the leaflet - if people "use medicine containing paracetomol every day for a long time (several months or more)". This indication on timing is contrary to the most recent research about adults taking Paracetamol that indicates organ damage can arise in just a few days rather than months.
Still, a packet of Calpol I saw recently did say that it did not have any added sugar! 
Well, that's okay then!