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FDA Panel Wants Lower
Acetaminophen Doses

Posted Jul 01 2009 6:13pm

Almost two years ago to the date, I wrote about how acetaminophen (the primary ingredient in Tylenol) nearly killed me. I was suffering from something known as rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle tissue. In my case, the condition was probably triggered by flu, dehydration and extreme physical activity.

While in the hospital, the doctors offered me a painkiller laced with acetaminophen to help me sleep. My symptoms worsened throughout the night.

I complained to the medical crew about the reaction, and they told me it was simply not possible. Although my hospitalization occurred on 2003, I didn’t write about the incident until 2006 because that’s when reports of high doses of acetaminophen causing liver damage finally came out.

Fast forward two years: a panel of health advisers are asking the Food and Drug Administration to “lower the maximum dose of over-the-counter acetaminophen,” reports HealthDay. The panel recommends dropping the 1,000-milligram pill in favor of a 650 milligram maximum.

The health panel also recommends a ban on far more potent prescription drugs Percocet and Vicodin, reports The New York Times. The drugs combine a narcotic with the acetaminophen.

The reason for the recommendation? High doses of acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage and even death. Besides repeatedly popping more of the pills in their mouths than they should, Americans often don’t realize cold remedies and other products contain acetaminophen. This can result in accidental overdoses.

Whether the FDA will follow the panel’s recommendation is anyone’s guess.

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