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The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has called for a ban on promotional deals for paracetamol following multi-buy deals on the drug offered by a British discount retailer.

According to RPS, Poundland is running a “highly irresponsible” buy two get-one-free deal which contravenes regulatory guidance on best practice for the sale of medicines for pain relief.

“Poundland’s decision to offer their customers this deal contravenes the voluntary agreements in place which protect the health of the public. Responsible retailers do not provide these kinds of deals,” the RPS president Sandra Gidley said in a statement on Dec 1.

A spokesperson for the variety store chain told Pharmacy Business that the company was operating within the rule of law and that the sale of paracetamol was “neither an offer nor a deal”.

“At Poundland we’re a discount retailer where the majority of our items are at a fixed price of £1. It’s therefore difficult to consider selling fewer packs to customers as this would represent poor value to our customers, but what’s important though is we operate within the law – that’s clear you can offer three packs for £1.”

However, RPS insists “the offer” conflicts regulatory guidance from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency, which is endorsed by the British Retail Consortium of which Poundland is a member.

“We are extremely concerned by Poundland’s buy-two-get-one-free deal on paracetamol. It’s highly irresponsible and it should be stopped immediately,” Gidley added.

“Medicines should not be treated like other consumer products. Whilst paracetamol is an effective painkiller, it is also a very easy medicine to overdose with and can cause harm, or even death. Guidance on sales and restrictions on pack sizes of paracetamol were introduced to reduce harm and suicides and have been successful in doing so. Promoting multi-buys on paracetamol in this way is unacceptable.

“The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has contacted Poundland on a number of occasions to request they stop promoting paracetamol through multi-buys.”

Whilst stating that the price of Paracetamol “at three packs for £1” has remained the same for many years at the chain, Poundland added: “…there’s clearly been a discrepancy between current law and the voluntary medical guidelines, which of course is a situation that’s unique to a retailer with a fixed price point like ourselves.

“…our offer is constantly under review to ensure it’s both legal and good value to customers.”

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