Acetylsalicylic acid as a potential paediatric health hazard: legislative aspects concerning accidental intoxications in the European Union

Acetylsalicylic acid is a frequently used medication worldwide. It is not used in paediatrics due its association with Reye syndrome. However, in case of paediatric intoxication, children are more fragile to salicylate poisoning because of their reduced ability of buffer the acid stress. Intoxication leads to a decoupling of oxidative phosphorylation and subsequently to a loss in mitochondrial function. Symptoms of poisoning are diverse; eventually they can lead to the death of the patient. Governmental websites of various EU countries were searched for legal information on acetylsalicylic acid availability in pharmacies and non-pharmacy stores. Various EU countries permit prescription-free sales of acetylsalicylic acid in pharmacies and non-pharmacy stores. In Sweden acetylsalicylic acid 500 mg may be sold in a maximum package size of 20 tablets or effervescent tablets in a non-pharmacy. In the UK a maximum of 16 tablets of acetylsalicylic acid 325 mg is allowed to sell in non-pharmacies. In Ireland acetylsalicylic acid is classified as S2 medication. Subsequently, acetylsalicylic acid is allowed to be sold prescription-free in pharmacies and non-pharmacy stores. In the Netherlands acetylsalicylic acid may only be sold in drug stores or pharmacies. A maximum of 24 tablets of 500 mg is allowed to purchase in a drug store. Several countries in the European Union are permitted to offer acetylsalicylic acid prescription-free in pharmacies and non-pharmacy stores without legal guidance on the storage position within the store. Further research is needed to investigate whether acetylsalicylic acid is located directly accessible to young children within the stores in EU countries which permit prescription-free sales of acetylsalicylic acid.

Authors: Mund ME, Gyo C, Brüggmann D, Quarcoo D, Groneberg DA. ;Full Source: Journal of Occupational Medicine & Toxicology. 2016 Jul 13; 11:32. doi: 10.1186/s12995-016-0118-5.eCollection 2016. ;