Amid increasing concerns about the safety of the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol (acetaminophen), the FDA has taken steps to warn consumers about the risk of Tylenol overdose and Tylenol liver failure, sometimes requiring a liver transplant. Since the risk of serious Tylenol side effects first emerged in the 1990s, drug regulators have made an effort to reduce the incidence of liver injury and fatality associated with Tylenol overdose. Unfortunately, the FDA notes, the extent of liver failure cases reported in medical literature suggests that liver injury from acetaminophen overdose remains a serious public health problem. Despite the potentially life-threatening risks associated with Tylenol use, acetaminophen remains one of the most widely used medications in the United States for relieving pain and fever, with more than 28 billion acetaminophen products sold in 2005 alone. If you have suffered from liver injury or liver failure requiring a liver transplant, and you believe Tylenol to be the cause, contact a Tylenol attorney for legal help.
According to a study that combined data from 22 specialty medical centers in the United States, a high percentage of instances of acetaminophen-related liver injury were linked to accidental overdose, in which a patient unintentionally took too much acetaminophen. Unfortunately, the progression from Tylenol overdose to Tylenol liver failure can take place in as little as 48 hours, making diagnosis and treatment extremely difficult. Acute liver failure requiring a liver transplant is diagnosed in patients in which large portions of the liver are damaged beyond repair and the liver is no longer able to function properly. Unlike most cases of liver failure, which take place over the course of years, acute liver failure is often difficult to diagnose because the initial symptoms of the condition sometimes mimic minor illnesses, like the flu.
Early symptoms of acute liver failure associated with Tylenol overdose often include nondescript symptoms like nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and diarrhea. As the liver continues to lose function however, the patient's condition will begin to worsen, leading to more serious symptoms like jaundice, confusion, bleeding easily, swollen abdomen, sleepiness, and possibly even coma. If detected early, acute liver failure associated with Tylenol overdose can sometimes be treated successfully. Unfortunately, the rapid progression of the disease often means that the patient's only chance of survival is a liver transplant. Without a liver transplant, the patient may develop kidney failure and heart problems, and death may occur due to infections, brain swelling, or multiple organ failure.
The liver is an integral component of the body's proper functioning, and the organ performs a number of complex jobs in the body, including producing proteins, metabolizing nutrients, producing bile to digest fat and absorb vitamins, removing bacteria from the blood, and removing potentially toxic byproducts of certain medications. Unfortunately, small amounts of acetaminophen are converted to a toxic metabolite in the body, which can bind with liver proteins to cause cellular damage. The amount of toxic metabolite produced and the ability of the liver to remove the metabolite before it binds to liver protein affects the extent of liver injury. If liver injury progresses to liver failure, a liver transplant may be needed for survival.
The FDA indicates that from 1998 to 2003, acetaminophen was the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S., with 48% of acetaminophen-related cases associated with accidental overdose. In light of this alarming statistic, the FDA announced in January 2011 that it was advising manufacturers of acetaminophen-containing products to limit the maximum amount of the drug in their products to 325 mg per capsule or tablet. Johnson & Johnson has also since reduced the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol from 4,000 mg to 3,000 mg, in an attempt to minimize the risk of Tylenol overdose and liver failure requiring a liver transplant. If you or a loved one has suffered from Tylenol liver failure in which a liver transplant was necessary, consult a Tylenol attorney to discuss your options for legal recourse. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your illness, the medical bills associated with treatment, and the pain and suffering you have endured as a result, and you can pursue this compensation by filing a Tylenol lawsuit against drug maker Johnson & Johnson.