"Paracetamol is one of the most common painkillers we use — every day thousands of packs are sold in supermarkets and chemists, and it’s our favourite remedy for dealing with a headache. But should there be tighter controls over its sale, when one of the hidden side-effects can be devastating liver damage? The family of Desiree Phillips certainly thinks so — the 20-year-old single mum died last August of acute liver failure caused by paracetamol poisoning. Paracetamol had built up in her body without anyone noticing — the drug produces a by-product known as NAPQI, which attacks the liver. As it gradually accumulates, it can result in a ‘staggered’ overdose. Last November, a medical journal published research showing that just a few extra paracetamol daily can be fatal and that a staggered overdose is much more likely to be fatal than a deliberate one. Doctors say that when the danger levels of toxicity are reached, many patients show no symptoms for 24 hours, by which time it may be too late."