Because over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs like Tylenol are so readily-available to Americans, many consumers assume that the medications pose no risk of side effects. Unfortunately, even Tylenol, a medicine that can be found in nearly every medicine cabinet in the United States, has been linked to dangerous and possibly even fatal side effects. According to the FDA, evidence suggests that consumers who exceed the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol (acetaminophen) may be at risk of devastating Tylenol side effects like overdose and liver failure. In fact, the FDA warns that, from 1998 to 2003, acetaminophen was the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States, with 48% of acetaminophen-related instances associated with accidental overdose. Unfortunately, because acetaminophen is one of the most widely used drugs in the country, many consumers continue to take the medication unaware of the risk of liver failure and death they may be exposing themselves to. If you have lost a loved one because of Tylenol overdose or liver failure, contact a Tylenol attorney to discuss filing a wrongful death claim against Johnson & Johnson.
Tylenol is the brand name of the medication acetaminophen, a widely-used pain reliever that is available over the counter. In 2005 alone, consumers in the U.S. purchased more than 28 billion doses of products containing acetaminophen, of which single-ingredient, over-the-counter products like Tylenol represents 8 billion doses. Regardless of Tylenol's effectiveness in relieving pain and fever, the FDA has indicated that taking more than the recommended dose of the medication can cause liver damage, ranging from abnormalities in liver function tests to acute liver failure, and even death. The brand name Tylenol is owned by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.
The potential connection between Tylenol use and liver failure has been evident since the 1990s, and the FDA has made a number of efforts in the years since to reduce the incidence of acetaminophen-related liver injury. Unfortunately, the agency warns, the extent of liver failure cases reported in medical literature indicates that liver injury associated with acetaminophen overdose remains a serious public health issue. In a study that combined data from 22 specialty medical centers in the U.S., researchers concluded that acetaminophen-related liver injury was the leading cause of acute liver failure for the years 1998 through 2003. The study also indicated that a high percentage of cases of acetaminophen liver injury were related to unintentional overdose, in which the patient accidentally took too much acetaminophen.
On January 13, 2011, the FDA asked all manufacturers of acetaminophen-containing products to limit the amount of the drug to 325 mg per capsule or tablet. In July 2011, Johnson & Johnson also reduced the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol from 4,000 mg to 3,000 mg, in an effort to reduce the risk of deadly liver failure resulting from Tylenol overdose. Over-the-counter pain and fever medications like Tylenol have already been required by the FDA to change the dosage labeling to include information about potential side effects, including liver injury. Unfortunately, Tylenol side effect studies have shown that even healthy individuals taking Tylenol as recommended may be at risk for liver failure side effects or death. A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that healthy adults taking the maximum daily recommended dose of Tylenol for two weeks had abnormal liver test results. According to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, about 500 deaths, 26,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 emergency room visits were attributed to acetaminophen overdose between 1990 and 1998.
According to the FDA, acetaminophen has a narrow safety margin, which means there is little difference between the maximum recommended daily dose and a potentially harmful dose. Unfortunately, this only further complicates the fact that many instances of Tylenol overdose are caused by consumers mistakenly taking more than the recommended dose, unaware of the fact that acetaminophen overdoses can cause serious liver injury and death. If you have lost a loved one because of a Tylenol overdose or liver failure side effect, contact a Tylenol attorney today. You may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in order to pursue financial compensation for the financial expenses associated with your loss, including lost income, funeral costs and emotional pain and suffering. With the help of an experienced Tylenol lawyer, the families of Tylenol wrongful death victims can protect their legal rights and hold the allegedly negligent drug company liable for their loss.