Tylenol is one of the most widely-used medications in the United States, a fact that has misled many consumers to believe that it is a safe drug with no side effects. According to the FDA, acetaminophen is an important drug, and its effectiveness in treating pain and fever is widely known. Unfortunately, the agency warns, exceeding the maximum recommended dose of acetaminophen can cause serious liver injury and possibly even death. In light of this risk, the FDA issued a notice in January 2011 advising all manufacturers of acetaminophen-containing drugs to limit the amount of acetaminophen in their products to 325 mg per tablet or capsule. Later that year, Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson reduced the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol from 4,000 mg to 3,000 mg, in an effort to minimize the incidence of liver injury caused by Tylenol overdose. While these moves may have temporarily calmed fears about liver damage side effects caused by Tylenol overdose, new concerns about the risk of liver injury with even recommended doses of Tylenol have surfaced.
Tylenol is the brand name of the generic drug acetaminophen, which can be found in many over-the-counter and prescription medications, including Percocet and Vicodin. Although Tylenol has remained a trusted name in pain relievers for decades, research dating back to the 1990s has suggested that Tylenol may be associated with life-threatening side effects like Tylenol overdose and liver injury. According to the FDA, the mechanism of liver injury is related to the fact that small amounts of acetaminophen are converted to a toxic metabolite when ingested, which binds with liver proteins to cause cellular injury. The extent of liver injury depends on the amount of toxic metabolite produced and the ability of the liver to remove the metabolite from the body before it binds to liver proteins.
The FDA has warned that taking more than the recommended dose of Tylenol per day can cause liver damage ranging from abnormalities in blood tests used to assess liver function to acute liver failure, and even death. Unfortunately, research has indicated that even individuals taking Tylenol as recommended may suffer from Tylenol overdose and liver injury. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, even healthy adults taking the maximum recommended dose of Tylenol for two weeks had abnormal liver test results.
According to the FDA, acetaminophen has a "narrow safety margin," which means there is little difference between the maximum recommended dose of the drug and a potentially harmful dose. Furthermore, the agency suggests, the maximum amount of acetaminophen that can be safely ingested may not be the same for all people. Available data indicates that some people may be more susceptible to the effects of the toxic metabolite because they produce more of it, or because they are unable to remove it from the body as easily.
Consumers across the country depend on Tylenol to relieve their pain and treat fever, and the drug is even approved for use in children. Unfortunately, Tylenol's ability to cause overdose and liver injury side effects resulted in approximately 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths during the 1990-1998 period. If you have suffered from Tylenol liver failure side effects associated with recommended Tylenol doses, contact an experienced Tylenol attorney to discuss your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical bills and other expenses, which you can pursue by filing a Tylenol lawsuit against drug firm Johnson & Johnson.