For months, France’s Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament has called on pharmacies to monitor the sale of the painkiller and limit the amounts individuals could purchase to maintain stocks.
In December, the Ministry of Health warned that, despite rationing, the situation was “complex” and would not be resolved for “several weeks”.
Now the government has stepped in to protect supplies, formally banning the less-well monitored online sale of paracetamol and paracetamol-based medicines – most commonly bought under the brand name Doliprane – until the end of January in order to ensure that the painkiller is more readily available on the High Street.
A decree published in the Journal Officiel, said that “tensions in paracetamol-based medicines have continued for more than six months,” especially in medicines intended for children.
“The various measures taken by the health authorities, however effective they may have been, have not so far been able to put an end to it,” the order added.
The government said that an export ban in China, where cases of Covid-19 are increasing sharply after a sudden lifting of drastic health restrictions, had hit the global supply chain.
These supply difficulties are also part of a wider shortages of multiple drugs in France and in other countries, including antibiotics such as amoxicillin.
In France over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and cold and flu remedies can only be purchased at a pharmacy.