FDA Warns about Acetaminophen in Prescription Drugs

The FDA has issued a warning this month about the presence (and danger) of acetaminophen in prescription pain drugs, such as Vicodin, Percocet, Lortab, Fioricet, and Roxicet, although nearly all prescription pain drugs contain some acetaminophen. The problem is, the labels on these drugs make it hard to identify how much acetaminophen is in them. Even your physician may have trouble knowing how much is included because the abbreviation APAP doesn’t help them.

Serious liver damage can result from taking just 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a single day. It’s fairly easy for this to happen if you’re taking several medications and aren’t aware that the others already contain a large dose of acetaminophen. Statistics show that approximately 56,000 emergency room visits per year and 26,000 hospital admissions occur as a result. Acetaminophen is said to be the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US, causing nearly 2,000 cases a year.

FDA has decreed that within three years the following two steps will impact prescription drugs:

  • Prescription pain drugs can contain no more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen per pill or spoonful. Currently, some of these drugs contain as much as 750 milligrams of acetaminophen.
  • Prescription pain drugs will carry the FDA’s strongest “black box” warning label, which will warn consumers of the risk of serious liver injury.

“When taken as directed, acetaminophen is a very safe product. Our goal is to make it even safer,” Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA’s office of new drugs, said at a news teleconference.

To your health & beauty,

The Doctors Wall: Holly, Simeon Sr, and Simeon Jr.


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