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New safety review should regulate laxatives to protect eating disorder sufferers

The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is undertaking a review of the safety of over-the-counter stimulant laxatives, considering their overuse in people with eating disorders.

Welcoming the review, Beat’s Head of Communications Rebecca Field said, “We know that laxatives pose severe health risks for people with eating disorders. Patient safety should be an absolute priority and we welcome the MHRA’s review as an opportunity to ensure that is the case.

“Just as painkillers are regulated to prevent people overusing them and harming their own health, there should be restrictions on the availability of laxatives.

“The MHRA should introduce a minimum age of 16 for purchasing laxatives, an upper limit on the amount that can be purchased, and ensure that laxatives are only available at pharmacies and not in general retail stores.

“It is vital that people are aware of the dangers of abusing laxatives and there should be more education on their effects. Doctors and pharmacists should also be made aware that overuse of laxatives is one of the signs of an eating disorder, so that they are able to intervene and ensure sufferers get treatment.