Acetaminophen such as Tylenol® is one of the most popular painkillers in the world, yet it may also be one of the most dangerous. This medication has been linked to liver damage, and is listed by the Mayo Clinic as one of the major causes of acute liver failure. Within days of taking a large dosage of Tylenol®, a patient can develop acute live failure. Sadly, this damage cannot be reversed, and the only option is to undergo a liver transplant. The wait list for a liver transplant is extremely long, and many patients become very ill or die before they are able to find a suitable organ donor.
Due to the severity of liver damage, some patients who can prove that they have suffered liver damage from acetaminophen use are filing lawsuits against drug manufacturers. If you or someone you love has suffered acute liver failure after taking an acetaminophen product, you should talk to acetaminophen injury attorney to evaluate your situation and determine whether you have a potential claim.
An overdose of acetaminophen such as Tylenol® can overwhelm the liver’s defenses and cause liver damage and liver failure within days. Studies reveal that acetaminophen overdoses have caused:
- More than 56,000 injuries
- Some 2,500 hospitalizations
- An estimated 450 deaths each year
- The FDA’s Intervention
In January of 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required a “black box warning” to be placed on all acetaminophen-containing products including Tylenol® 8 Hour, Tylenol® Arthritis Pain, and all Tylenol® medications for upper respiratory ailments. The warning highlights the risk for severe liver injury and acute liver failure. The FDA has also requested that makers of acetaminophen products limit the amount of milligrams-per-capsule to 325mg. The Administration is giving drug manufacturers until January of 2014 to accomplish this, which aims to reduce the risk of acetaminophen toxicity.
This warning was issued after research findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which discovered multiple adverse health consequences stemming from acetaminophen, including:
- 44 percent of patients taking acetaminophen patients showed signs of liver enzyme abnormalities
- Liver damage can occur after taking acetaminophen for just four days
- Acetaminophen may account for up to 50 percent of all liver injuries
Preventing Live Damage
To prevent liver damage, you should take no more than 2,000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period. This risk of acetaminophen overdose is higher when drinking alcohol, mixing medications, and if the medication is taken on an empty stomach. Drugs containing acetaminophen are sold over-the-counter as well as in prescription painkillers including Vicodin, Codeine and Percocet.