Millions of people take pain relievers each day without as much as a second thought. Widely available and used for relief of headache, fever, and other minor aches and pains, Tylenol remains the nation's number one adult pain medicine. Tylenol contains an active ingredient known as acetaminophen, and many Americans remain unaware of the serious side-effects that may result from using this common drug.
Tylenol injury lawyer Jeffrey D. DeCarlo understands that an acetaminophen overdose often is difficult to detect and not only could result in acute liver failure, but also lead to death. According to recent research, these accidental overdoses affect tens of thousands of people every year.
Acetaminophen study reveals dangers of Tylenol overdose
Acetaminophen, classified as a mild analgesic, is commonly used on its own or as part of cold and flu remedies. Acetaminophen is metabolized by the liver, and patients can be at risk of suffering an accidental overdose due to the drug's high toxicity level if they've taken as little as 25% above the maximum daily dose. A comprehensive ProPublica study on acetaminophen-containing medicine such as Tylenol, Excedrin, and Sudafed revealed the following:
- Acetaminophen overdose kills 150 people in the United States per year, although Time Magazine reported that the number could be closer to 500.
- Between 55,000 and 80,000 people visit the emergency room each year as a result of acetaminophen poisoning.
- Due to acetaminophen poisoning taking several days to develop into flu-like symptoms, an accidental overdose is rarely preventable.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not completed an investigation on acetaminophen that was originally started 30 years ago to determine toxicity levels.
- McNeil (Tylenol's parent company) has fought against product warning labels outlining the danger of acetaminophen overdose.
- Warning labels stating that acetaminophen has been associated with acute liver failure and death have only been placed on prescription-strength drugs and not more common over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol.
Preventing acetaminophen overdose in the United States
In response to the ProPublica study on acetaminophen overdose, Pacific Standard offered some suggestions that could help better regulate common over-the-counter drugs and better educate consumers of the dangers of these drugs.
Pacific Standard recommended that the FDA establish a smaller maximum daily dose of acetaminophen-containing drugs and limiting the strength of pills. In addition, Pacific Standard recommended following in the footsteps of countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany in restricting pill quantities sold to consumers.
Furthermore, Pacific Standard recommended that acetaminophen-containing products have clear warning labels, including a new acetaminophen icon and warnings designed to let consumers know that overuse could result in acute liver failure, liver transplant, or even death.
Unfortunately, though, thanks to the FDA's reluctance to regulate the popular drug and the unwillingness of drug companies to warn their users of the dangers associated with their products, it could be up to consumers to ensure their own safety.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of Tylenol or any other acetaminophen-containing drugs, contact the Law Office of Jeffrey D. DeCarlo, P.A. today at (305) 572-0065 for a free case consultation.