Desire was said to have taken “a few extra” paracetamol tablets to relieve the pain of a minor operation. She died after suffering from what was diagnosed as liver damage as her condition remained irrectifiable.
It had been warned in recent reports that excessive use of analgesic tablets could be harmful with warnings being issued across the country.
Studied had shown that “staggered overdoses” of paracetamol over the course of a few days can be more dangerous than a single, massive overdose.
Miss Phillips, of Llanelli, South Wales, had a routine procedure to remove several benign lumps on her breast earlier this year.
Doctors prescribed antibiotics and over-the-counter paracetamol to help her cope with the discomfort.
Nine days after the operation, she was taken to hospital in excruciating pain and diagnosed with liver failure.
She underwent a liver transplant but died a week later at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth hospital.
Her father, Des, said he believed his daughter had been taking only “a few extra tablets” than the recommended dose of eight every 24 hours.
“She seemed fine to us, then out of the blue her boyfriend found her stretched out on the sofa and he rang an ambulance. The whole thing came as a terrible shock. When we heard she was in hospital we never expected that she might die.
“People don’t realise – they think an extra two won’t harm, that extra two over a period of time can harm your liver if you keep taking that over two to three weeks,” said Mr Phillips.
Last month research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that taking just a few extra paracetamol tablets a day can be fatal. The study of 663 patients with paracetamol-induced liver injury found that those who took “staggered overdoses” over the course of several days were a third more likely to die than those who took a single overdose of pills.
Dr Kenneth Simpson, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “Those who’ve taken a staggered overdose do worse, paradoxically, than the people who’ve tried to kill themselves.”
Although an inquest is yet to be held into Miss Phillips’s death, her family has spoken out in the hope of preventing similar tragedies elsewhere.
Mr Phillips , a chef, said: “If a painkiller is that dangerous, it should be prescribed. You should not be able to buy them over the counter. Cigarettes have a label saying ‘smoking kills’. Paracetamol can be fatal, but when you look at the packets, they don’t look dangerous.”
Miss Phillips’s one-year-old son, Jayden, is now being cared for by his father, Simon Dewi-Jones. Mr Phillips added: “It was awful, in the end she couldn’t even give him a cuddle goodbye. He’s too young to know what happened now, but I’m sure it will be something that affects him in the future.”
Miss Phillips’s mother, Ayshea, 38, said: “Desiree was taking painkillers because she had three lumps removed from her breast and she was in pain. She didn’t know what was going to happen. Jayden doesn’t deserve to be growing up without a mum because of this.”
A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: “Paracetamol is a safe and effective painkiller for a range of conditions when used correctly and when the dosage recommendations are followed.”