Because of its widespread availability and inclusion in hundreds of cold and cough medicines across the United States, acetaminophen has been linked to purposeful and accidental overdose deaths.
It is illegal or subject to tight regulations in several countries, including Norway, the United Kingdom, Algeria, India, and Kyrgyzstan. Around 500 deaths each year in the United States are attributed to complications from acetaminophen intoxication, making it the top reason for liver transplantation.
It’s in a wide variety of OTC and prescription drugs and goes by many different brand names. High dosages of acetaminophen can be harmful and may even be fatal by damaging the liver.
Although patients must take their prescriptions as prescribed, it is worrying that not all prescribers of combination opioid/acetaminophen drugs make sure their patients appreciate the importance of avoiding additional acetaminophen medications.
Because it is so widely available, acetaminophen could be a suicide method.
Among young people aged 10 to 19, suicide attempts by poisoning are expected to rise by 30% between 2019 and 2021, according to a United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. There was a voluntary reduction from eight tablets per day (4,000 milligrams) to six tablets per day (3,000 milligrams) for Johnson & Johnson’s Extra Strength Tylenol products sold in the United States in 2011.
A 2009 vote by an FDA advisory panel recommended lowering the maximum daily acetaminophen dose and prohibiting the combination of acetaminophen and opioid medicines like Percocet and Vicodin. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limited the amount of acetaminophen in prescription medicines to 325 milligrams per dose and added a box warning in 2022 to reduce the risks connected with the drug.
Acetaminophen has been used to lessen pain and inflammation since 1878, and its use has been associated with an increase in cardiovascular and kidney disease.
Furthermore, even at recommended levels, it can cause liver failure.
Since acetaminophen has no anti-inflammatory effect, it is unclear how it reduces pain in the body. According to a meta-analysis of two large clinical trials, a daily dose of 4,000 mg did not improve sleep quality compared to a placebo and did not alleviate either short-term or chronic acute lower back pain. It is commonly misunderstood as a traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), although it is not.