Though this drug can be found in over 600 different prescription and over-the-counter medicines, many consumers don’t realize the risks associated with it. Acetaminophen is taken by over 50 million people each week, though research shows that almost half of all consumers don’t realize the health hazards and overdose risks associated with the drug. The FDA has heavily pushed acetaminophen “Know Your Dose” campaigns over the past year to increase consumer knowledge on the proper dosages of Acetaminophen containing products as well as to educate on overdose concerns.
“The Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition reviews the dosing behaviors that can lead to unintentional acetaminophen overdose and explores the successful impact of ongoing education campaigns to drive safe use and prevent overdose-related liver damage.”
The FDA notes that pain relievers, fever reducers, sleep aids and numerous cough, cold, and flu medicines all contain acetaminophen, which can lead to unintentional overdose when combined. Consumers should be vigilant to ensure that they do not consume more than 4,000 mg per day of acetaminophen across all products.
Though many consumers feel acetaminophen is safe because it comes in an over-the-counter form, the FDA points out that overdose is a cause for real concern. Overdosing on acetaminophen can lead to liver damage and even death. In fact, acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers across the U.S. with over 100,000 calls per year. Acetaminophen is also responsible for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations and approximately 458 deaths from liver failure.
Another interesting study surrounding acetaminophen was used to study the effectiveness of the drug on lower back pain. The Tylenol back pain study has found that the drug is no more effective at reducing acute lower back pain than a placebo. In fact, those on the placebo recovered a day sooner than those taking acetaminophen for pain.
What do you think about the acetaminophen overdose concerns and the FDA’s campaign to educate the public on common misconceptions regarding the pain reliever?