Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Government panel may pull drugs containing acetaminophen
A government panel assembled by the FDA may make some recommendations to pull some very common medications off the shelf. Acetaminophen (common brand name Tylenol) is a very safe drug that is mainly used to treat pain and fevers. However, an overdose of Tylenol can also be lethal because it can destroy the liver. We can live without our spleen, but we can't live without our liver, so that's why a Tylenol overdose can be fatal. Some people die as they wait for a liver transplant.
According to CNN (quoting the FDA), "overdoses of acetaminophen have been linked to 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations and 458 deaths during the 1990s." Of course, we also know that millions of people safely use Tylenol without any problems. The advisory panel could vote to pull over-the-counter drugs that use acetaminophen in combination with other ingredients that treat flu and cold symptoms, allergies or sleeplessness. This includes common drugs like: NyQuil, Pamprin and Allerest. Does this just mean that consumers will learn how to use over-the-counter drugs for off-label purposes? The FDA doesn't have to follow the advisory panel recommendation, so when this is all over, it may all be meaningless.
CNN also reports that the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) strongly opposes the elimination of OTC (over-the-counter) acetaminophen containing combination products. Interesting? Click here to read the CNN story.