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Doctor Warns Calpol Is 'The Heroin Of Childhood'

A doctor has warned that kids are being given so much Calpol that he calls it 'the heroin of childhood'...

Admittedly, Johnson & Johnson have only been making medication for kids for 45 years, but that's still quite an increase.


The BBC documentary called The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs featured new dad and TV doctor Chris van Tulleken.

Chris reckons that parents are giving kids so much Calpol because they are misinformed about what they should be giving their children for their various ailments.

Lots of parents give their kids Calpol to try to fight off a fever, despite the fact that the fever is the body's way of trying to fight off the infection by itself.

In fact, the advice that is on the medicine's official website says: "You could use a paracetamol or ibuprofen-based medicine to reduce fever."

Chris interviewed his own doctor, Dr Marlow, who said: "We have children almost addicted to paracetamol, to Calpol.

"Not the drug itself, but the process. Some describe it as 'the heroin of childhood'."


Dr van Tulleken, who presents the kid's medical show Operation Ouch said that it makes him pretty angry that parents are (in his opinion) misled with regards to their children's health.

He said: "It makes me feel very angry. It's not necessary in most of the instances they're talking about. We need to get the facts out there."

However, Johnson & Johnson said in a statement: "We strongly refute any suggestion that the information we provide to parents is inadequate."

Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA
Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA

The UK market for children's medication is about £64m, which is a lot when you consider that most of the things that children suffer for are not dangerous.

Experts at Edinburgh University recently found that paracetamol - the active ingredient of Calpol - can be very dangerous to the liver if taken too frequently.

Dr Damien Rowland, from Leicester Royal Infirmary, said that paracetamol (and therefore Calpol) should only be given to children as a painkiller if they are in distress.

The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs will be broadcast on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 23 May.

Featured Image Credit: PA/Tesco

Topics: Healthy, BBC One, Children, TV and Film, News, BBC, Documentary, UK, Health

Rachel Pugh

Rachel Pugh is PRETTY52's Social Editor. She previously worked as the Overnight TV & Showbiz editor for OK! Online. She started her journalism career in 2014, where she worked on the video desk for the Daily Star and Daily Express. Since then she has worked as a publisher, journalist, copywriter and social media manager on a variety of websites, with subject matters ranging from menswear to pop culture. Contact her –

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