Some labs have skyrocketed demand for the pain reliever by as much as 20% in recent weeks. Specialists recommend not taking it systematically.

From the paracetamol blisters.

We all know about paracetamol and all of us, surely, we usually use this analgesic and antipyretic that in Spain is always positioned among the top five drugs in the ranking of the best sellers each year. Now, in the middle of the vaccination campaign against Covid-19, when we finally begin to see the light and the end of the tunnel, the use of this drug has increased significantly to alleviate the possible adverse effects of some vaccines. Some companies claim that they have observed increments of up to 20%. But are we making good use of the drug? Do we take it properly before and after the vaccine? And finally, is it really necessary to take it or do we just take it to feel better?

“If we review the data from the notifications of adverse effects collected by the Spanish Medicines Agency (AEMPS) we observe that they are very similar in the three vaccines, there are hardly any differences”, Pablo Aldaz, spokesman for the group of vaccines of PAPPS-SEMFYC (Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine). The most frequent adverse effects that have been described and collected -according to the EMA- have been fundamentally, as enumerated by Aldaz: fever, headache, muscle pain, and general malaiseapart from pain and discomfort at the puncture site. Side effects that are to be expected have been described in each of the sera.

These effects, if they exist (not all those vaccinated will have them) are of mild intensity and usually last between 24 and 48 hours. “To alleviate them, to alleviate the symptoms, paracetamol can be useful. That is, as soon as the symptoms appear we can take a tablet every 6 or 8 hours ”, indicates the expert.

However, despite the fact that all three vaccines produce these adverse effects, many people have linked the AstraZeneca vaccine with an increased risk. “That is the feeling of the population,” says Aldaz, who attributes it to the “unjustified alarmism” that is being created around the drug despite having a more than high proven and proven efficacy against COVID-19: 76% average efficacy and with an effectiveness of 85% against symptomatic cases among those over 65 years of age and 100% against serious cases of the disease or hospitalizations, according to the latest updated data.

More acetaminophen with AstraZeneca?

With the start of the AstraZeneca vaccination, at the end of this past March, a pharmaceutical laboratory set off alarms about the sales of paracetamol. Was the vaccine increasing sales of this popular drug? According to information from Ferrer laboratories, the company observed a 18% increase in sales of your pain reliever As a result of the recommendation issued by the Ministry of Health in which it indicates that a pill could be consumed in the moment prior to vaccination, and every 6 hours during the first 24 hours.

Specifically, the recommendation of the Ministry of Health was the following: “To reduce these symptoms paracetamol can be used as prophylactic treatment (before vaccination) and / or symptomatic (during the first 24 hours), without its use interfering with the immune response ”.

But this indication does not appear randomly, but is endorsed by the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine itself. As Eva Badía, head of the Department of Medical Sciences of the pharmaceutical laboratory Kern Pharma, explains to EL ESPAÑOL, this indication can be observed in the publication of the study of the AstraZeneca vaccine, collected in The Lancet in July 2020.

“According to the study, when paracetamol was used prophylactically (before the vaccine) and symptomatically (during the first 24 hours of vaccination), the adverse reactions that appeared were significantly reducedAnd it was also seen that it did not interfere with the immune response ”, explains Badía. Hence, paracetamol is recommended as a prophylactic and symptomatic treatment to reduce the symptoms that may appear (described above) after the application of the vaccine.

On the other hand, according to Kern Pharma, paracetamol leaders in the market (every year they leave their factory in Terrassa almost 400 million doses both in tablets and in stick pack), have not seen an increase in demand for their paracetamol, which is the most sold in Spain. If those vaccinated follow or had followed the Ministry’s instructions, “it would mean that each person vaccinated with AstraZeneca would take one paracetamol before being vaccinated and another 4 after vaccination, a total of 5 doses in total per person, which would not be a very significant volume either. ”, They explain from the company. All this, together with the current suspension of the vaccine in those under 60 years of age.

However, “due to the volumes that we handle, if there is an upturn in demand derived from the recommendation to use paracetamol before and 24 hours after the vaccine, we are more than prepared to cover it,” they add from this pharmaceutical laboratory.

Not preventively

All opinions are not in the same line, at least as regards the prophylactic part, that is, the use of paracetamol as a preventive form before the administration of the vaccine. According to Dr. Aldaz, “the number of notifications of adverse effects is so low that it makes no sense that we recommend such a huge population to take it to avoid symptoms that can be mild and temporary. And if they appear, we could take them, but when the symptoms appear (as they always do) and not before ”.

Likewise, this week the SEMFYC has published a document that collects the things that we should not do in the COVID-19 vaccination. One of those points refers to paracetamol: “Do not administer systematically paracetamol to prevent possible side effects of vaccines against Covid-19 ″. It should be remembered the importance of making good use of paracetamol, and of all other drugs, since abuse or misuse of this painkiller can have health consequences.

Finally, it is important to note that reactions to the vaccine tend to be stronger (and therefore have those side effects described above) in younger people, “because your immune system is more vigorous and produces a stronger response than that of older people who have it more worn out, ”says Aldaz. In spite of everything, it is important to insist that “we are talking about mild and temporary symptoms, which disappear in 24-48 hours and should not last any longer. If they will last longer, we should consult the doctor because there may be another added problem ”, concludes Aldaz.