The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has cautioned on the safe use of paracetamol, following reports of an alleged social media challenge involving the drug.

Reports of the so-called ‘Paracetamol Challenge’ have been circulating this week, with Donna Jones, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday about an incident that was said to have occurred at Southampton central station at the weekend.

But TikTok, the platform where the challenge is alleged to have spread, told The Pharmacist that while it is investigating the reports, it has not yet found any evidence of such a challenge on the platform.

Responding to reports of the challenge, RPS chief scientist Professor Parastou Donyai cautioned: ‘While paracetamol provides safe and effective relief to millions, as a painkiller or to treat fever, it is vital that it is only taken in the dose advised on the packet, without taking any other paracetamol-containing products, and/or as advised by a health professional.’

She added that too much of the drug can cause liver and kidney damage, and anyone suspected of a paracetamol overdose ‘must receive urgent medical attention’.

And she said that social media platforms should effectively moderate and remove harmful content.

TikTok’s community guidelines state: ‘We want TikTok to be a place where people can discuss emotionally complex topics in a supportive way without increasing the risk of harm. We do not allow showing, promoting, or sharing plans for suicide or self-harm.’

And they say that the platform may contact local emergency services in the case of a specific, credible, and imminent threat to human life or serious physical injury.

They also state that the platform does ‘not allow inaccurate, misleading, or false content that may cause significant harm to individuals or society, regardless of intent’.

Regarding the incident last weekend, Southampton City Council issued a joint statement on behalf of Hampshire County Council, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary, Hampshire Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, South Central Ambulance Service and University Hospital Southampton.

They said: ‘We are aware of the incident in question and are continuing to work across the appropriate agencies as part of ongoing investigations and to ensure those involved are fully supported. We are unable to comment any further.’