Acetaminophen is dangerous, says FDA


I’ve sat on this article from USA Today since July 8.  I guess I was kind of hoping it would go away.  As one of those chronic pain patients who can’t take narcotics and still hold a job, I am dependent on over the counter meds to take the edge off or at least let me get through the day.

I will state up front that I don’t take a lot of straight Tylenol because it doesn’t even touch pain.  I might to reduce a fever, but for pain?  Nope.  However, I really like Excedrin for pain control and take much more than the recommended dosage of Aleve each day.  My liver already hates me and my stomach is already ruined.

So here’s an article in USA Today’s Life section (Wednesday, July 8, 2009, page 6D) advising readers that acetaminophen has a high rate of liver failure attached to it.

The Food and Drug Administration joint advisory committee spent two days in discussion of the safety questions.  Their recommendations were to lower the maximum daily dosage, strengthen labeling and remove it as an ingredient from some prescription drugs.  They have yet to take action.

Acetaminophen is an ingredient in Vicodin, Percocet, Darvocet, NyQuil, Exedrin, and several cold and flu medications.

The FDA reports an estimated 110,000 emergency room visits a year are related to the drug and linked cases of acute liver failure are also reported.

This is the medicine most of us give to our children!

I think I’m glad it doesn’t work that well for me, but now I have to watch everything else I might take to make sure it doesn’t creep in.  My liver isn’t in great shape as it is.

In related news (as in prescription drugs used for pain control being dangerous), propoxyphene painkillers are being phased out of all European markets.  Darvocet, Darvon and other painkillers that contain the narcotic propoxyphene will, however, be staying on the US Market with stronger warning labels.

The European Medicines Agency concluded that the risks of propoxyphen medicines, particularly for the potentially fatal overdose, outweigh their benefits and recommend the European Union gradually withdraw them.

This drug, apparently, kills, though the article doesn’t give specifics.  It does quote Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizens’ Health Research Group’s acting director to say “I have never seen a drug with a more unfavorable ratio of risk to benefit.”

I’ve been prescribed Darvon several times throughout my young adulthood before percodan and percocet became more available.  This short article cleared up part of my curiosity over what happened to a drug that seemed to work well on pain.

So I’m stuck with Aleve for daytime and my standing prescriptions for Tramadol (Ultram) or Demoral for nights I just can’t take it.  I’m half afraid the FDA is going to come out with something bad for Aleve, also, in which case I’ll be sitting on a street corner promising a song or poem for food.


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