Health & Medical

Best Painkillers for What Ails You

It’s August 23rd, 2011 and the front page of msn.com on the internet website ran the above stated headline as one of the top stories of the day. If you go to page two of the article, it shows in small print that the article ran two years ago in 2009 in Self magazine.

I in turn decided to comment on the article, and click on the icon called “I like”. I don’t like the article, and there is no alternative icon for “I don’t like”. In other words, the whole objective of this article is to convince you that pain killers are available and it implies Tylenol should be the drug of choice.

I wrote my comments on the site as follows.

I don’t like! Over 50% of all liver transplants are caused by acetaminophen. Many more die each year from overdosing. This is what should be said loud and clear! The FDA has its head in the sand. What does it take to wake up our FDA to their role to truly protect the American public?

I also saved an article published on July 1, 2009 in my local newspaper stating that the “FDA urged to restrict popular painkillers”

In essence, the article states that over 50,000 people are sent to emergency rooms at hospitals each year because of being overdosed. The panel of 37 medical experts recommended that the daily dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be lowered and the 1 Gram mega dose Tylenol pill should be by prescription only. Also, acetaminophen should not be combined with other prescription pain killers in the same dosage form.

Fast forward to the present day, and you will discover that Johnson and Johnson who markets Tylenol via their McNeil division has decided to make some changes in the dosing recommendation for their Extra Strength form on their time schedule.

On July 31st of 2011, Johnson and Johnson announced the following:

“Johnson & Johnson will soon lower the recommended daily dosage of its Extra Strength Tylenol due to overdose concerns. This fall, the McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of the company will change maximum dosage levels on the popular painkiller from eight pills a day to six pills a day”. It goes on to state that next year (2012) they will lower the dosage on their Regular Tylenol.

The following statement was released by the FDA this year:

On January 13, 2011, FDA announced that it is asking manufacturers of oral prescription acetaminophen combination products to limit the maximum amount of acetaminophen in these products to 325 mg per tablet, capsule, or other dosage unit, with the exception of intravenous injection. FDA believes that limiting the amount of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule, or other dosage unit in prescription products will reduce the risk of severe liver injury from acetaminophen overdosing, an adverse event that can lead to liver failure, liver transplant, and death.

It is sad to realize that it has taken the FDA over two years to have Tylenol begin to reduce the recommended dosage. A small step forward that has only now begun to address what 37 experts recommended two years ago. The experts should have demanded that immediate action be taken, but then the FDA would have had to stand up to Johnson and Johnson.

Considering the fact that Tylenol has been available to the American public for over 50 years, has anyone stopped to add up the number of people who developed liver failure, had a liver transplant or died from acetaminophen over this time period?

What does it take for the FDA to truly protect and educate the American public about the dangers of not only the over dosing of pain killers but the myriad of side effects from many of the prescription drugs that are prescribed each year.

Don’t the FDA and Johnson and Johnson have a social and moral responsibility to warn the consumer? Why is each step taken to reduce the harm caused by acetaminophen so drawn out? Each reader can draw their own conclusion as to why.

T. Braun, Pharmacist, Buyer, Marketing Executive for a Major Drug Chain. Active for over 45 years in Pharmacy.

Legal Stuff: Disclaimer – This document is informational in nature. Medical advice should be secured through your physician.

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