NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

Small Change Matters: paracetamol use in adults

Paracetamol is a very commonly prescribed medicine in NHSGGC. Due to high use, even small changes in price can make a big difference in the overall spend on paracetamol in primary care and acute services.

Key messages

  • Assess whether paracetamol prescription or supply is (still) required
  • Paracetamol is available in many different formulations and their costs vary
  • High volume prescribing  even small price differences can have a big impact on spend
  • Regularly review which formulation and dose is most appropriate for your patient, bearing in mind cost implications and patient safety

It is important that patients receive the formulation which is best suited for safe administration depending on their clinical circumstances.

Oral solid tablets- likely suitable for most patients

Soluble tablets, oral solution- may be required if patients have swallowing difficulties or receive medication via feeding tubes. In such patients, the salt content of the soluble tablets and the sorbitol content and hyperosmolarity of the oral liquid must be considered.

Please consider:

-  Referring to an appropriate pain guideline e.g. NHSGGC Prescribing Note for Acute Pain

-  Ease and safety of administration

-  Appropriateness of prescribed dose and formulation for your patient 

As the patient’s clinical situation changes, please review whether a different dose or formulation would be more appropriate, also bearing in mind the cost implications highlighted below.

(If viewing charts on a mobile device switch to landscape)



Please note: the two charts above cannot be compared to each other. The costs are displayed in relative terms to the cost of the 500mg oral solid tablet of paracetamol and its price differs between acute services and primary care.





Published 06/08/19. Medicines Update blogs are correct at the time of publication.