Denmark calls for stricter painkiller controls

suicide-pills1The majority of Danes have declared that they are in favour of tougher painkiller laws, with a review of legislation that governs access to the medication being called for by the country’s politicians.

The calls for reviews on how painkillers are both bought and sold come as the rate of overdosing and poisoning continues to rise, says Politiken. The rate of poisoning cases that involve prescription pain treatment medication such as paracetamol has risen by 300 percent in the past decade, with the increase partially attributed to sales of painkillers being permitted in non-pharmaceutical outlets in recent years.

The Danish government made significant steps to limit the use of painkillers some years ago, introducing warning labels on all pill jars and campaigned parents to take precautions to prevent medication falling into the hands of children. There were also programmes that encouraged safe storage and for parents to identify symptoms such as school difficulties, new boyfriends and girlfriends and other social warning signs.

However, the easy access to painkillers, coupled with the high rate of psychological referrals among Danish students, has meant the issue has grown rather than diminished. Statistics reveal that emergency rooms now treat, on average, one female per day aged between 12 and 20 years of age for deliberately overdosing on painkilling medication.

The Liberal Party of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has admitted that its well-intentioned campaigns have failed. “We’ve tried with campaigns and information and we just have to admit that it hasn’t worked. The numbers are rising. It’s very unfortunate,” said the government’s Public Health Committee head Preben Rudiengaard. He also implied a capping system on purchases as in Sweden may be introduced.

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