Recent action has been taken by the FDA to more adequately warn consumers about the increased risk of liver failure possibly associated with the use of the popular pain-reliever, Tylenol. On January 13, 2011, the FDA announced that it was advising manufacturers of acetaminophen products to limit the maximum amount of acetaminophen in their products to 325 mg per tablet or capsule. The agency's decision was based on the belief that limiting the amount of acetaminophen in these products would reduce the risk of severe liver injury caused by acetaminophen overdose, an adverse event that can lead to liver failure, liver transplant and even death. Furthermore, in July 2011, Johnson & Johnson reduced the maximum recommended daily dose of Tylenol from 4,000 mg to 3,000 mg, in an effort to reduce the risk of liver failure resulting from Tylenol overdose.
Because Tylenol is used so widely and is available without a prescription, many consumers believe it is a harmless drug with few, if any, side effects. Unfortunately, research dating back to the 1990s indicates that acetaminophen use is a major factor in the risk of acute liver failure in the United States, with up to half of instances caused by unintentional acetaminophen overdose. In fact, each year, nearly 800 cases of liver failure are linked to the use of acetaminophen (Tylenol), a medication that can be found in almost every medicine cabinet across the country. Despite the publication of numerous Tylenol liver failure studies, it wasn't until 2009 that the FDA finally issued a safety announcement recommending stronger warnings and dose limits on acetaminophen-containing drugs like Tylenol, due to the risk of liver failure. If Johnson and Johnson did not follow this action with a label change, they would be open to Tylenol liver failure lawsuits.
According to the FDA, liver damage can occur after taking Tylenol for only four days, resulting in early symptoms like nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. As the condition progresses, patients may suffer from more severe liver failure signs, including confusion, jaundice, swollen abdomen, bleeding easily, and even coma. Without prompt treatment, the liver may become damaged beyond repair, at which point treatment will be geared towards saving whatever portion of the liver is still functioning. In many cases, liver failure victims require a liver transplant for survival. The potential for Tylenol overdose to cause liver failure is so prominent that researchers have warned that even healthy people taking Tylenol as recommended may be at risk of suffering from severe liver failure side effects. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that healthy adults taking maximum recommended doses of Tylenol for two weeks had abnormal liver test results.
The FDA warns that, although acetaminophen (Tylenol) is one of the most commonly-used drugs in the United States, it is also an important cause of serious liver injury. Despite this life-threatening risk, millions of consumers in the United States continue to take Tylenol to relieve their pain or to treat a fever. According to an FDA report, there is extensive evidence suggesting that liver failure caused by Tylenol use may result from lack of consumer awareness concerning the link between acetaminophen overdose and severe liver injury. Unfortunately, there is only a small window of time in which liver failure can be diagnosed and effectively treated. The FDA indicates that liver damage may not be immediately recognizable because symptoms of this condition often take time to appear. In many cases, the early signs of liver damage (loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting) are mistaken for something far less serious, like the flu. Unfortunately, liver damage can develop into liver failure or death over several days.
According to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, approximately 500 deaths and 50,000 emergency room visits are attributed to acetaminophen overdoses. If you or a loved one has suffered from liver damage or liver failure resulting from Tylenol overdose, contact a Tylenol attorney as soon as possible. You may have grounds to file a Tylenol lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in order to pursue financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Drug companies like Johnson & Johnson are expected to produce safe and effective products for consumer use. Unfortunately, there are some medications currently on the market that are associated with side effects so severe they may significantly outweigh any possible benefits of the treatment. By contacting a qualified Tylenol lawyer and filing a Tylenol liver failure lawsuit against J&J, injured consumers can protect their legal rights and protect their family members from additional harm.