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An Easy Way to Cut Down on Pill Suicides?

(Photo: Sage Ross)

Ezekiel Emanuel, who’s popped up in our blog and podcasts, writes in the Times about a simple way to reduce suicides:

We need to make it harder to buy pills in bottles of 50 or 100 that can be easily dumped out and swallowed. We should not be selling big bottles of Tylenol and other drugs that are typically implicated in overdoses, like prescription painkillers and Valium-type drugs, called benzodiazepines. Pills should be packaged in blister packs of 16 or 25. Anyone who wanted 50 would have to buy numerous blister packages and sit down and push out the pills one by one. Turns out you really, really have to want to commit suicide to push out 50 pills. And most people are not that committed.

Emanuel cites an Oxford University study which found a 43 percent decline in suicide death by Tylenol overdose after Britain changed the required packaging for paracetamol (the active ingredient in Tylenol). FWIW, we blogged about this a couple years ago. Also, it’s worth noting that most Times commenters think the idea is daft.

(HT: The Dish)