Skip to comments.'Safe' Painkiller Is Leading Cause Of Liver Failure
Posted on 12/08/2005 3:07:50 PM PST by blam
'Safe' painkiller is leading cause of liver failure
08 December 2005
NewScientist.com news service
A POPULAR over-the-counter painkiller is now the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US - and almost half of those cases are accidental overdoses.
Paracetamol (or acetaminophen as it is known in the US) is used by millions of Americans each year, and is commonly thought to be safe. Until 1980, paracetamol was not even listed as a cause of acute liver failure. But between 1998 and 2003, the proportion of cases of liver failure caused by the drug nearly doubled.
William Lee at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and his colleagues followed patients with acute liver failure who were in a coma. Of the 275 people with paracetamol poisoning, 8 per cent received a liver transplant, 65 per cent survived without one and 27 per cent died.
Initially the researchers had suspected a direct relationship between how much of the drug is in the liver and for how long, and the extent of the damage. But people who intentionally overdosed, who tend to be identified and treated more quickly, had similar damage to those who overdosed accidentally. That suggests a clear threshold for what constitutes a safe dose of the drug.
Many of the people who had accidentally poisoned themselves did so by taking just 10 grams of the medication each day for about three days - the equivalent of about 20 pills per day instead of the recommended eight, an overdose that might be less serious with other drugs. Other people had unwittingly taken two products that both contained the drug (Hepatology, vol 42, p 1364).
Lee thinks American drug enforcers should follow the lead of the UK, which requires products that contain acetaminophen to be packaged in blister packets and sold in small quantities. "I think we should talk about limiting package size," says Lee. "You can buy 500 at a time. They're like M&Ms."
And, they're correct, I have a bottle of 500 in my medicine cabinet.
My missus has kidney failure that may have been the result of ibuprofen. inconclusive, but they found no other explaination for it either
Do most people not know about acetaminophen's effect on the liver? I thought it was pretty well known. I always take something else if I've had any alcohol that day.
It's also found in cough syrups and other stuff.
Then there's stuff like Tylenol #3 and Tylenol #4, that pair acetaminophen with codeine. Presumably, they add the Tylenol to prevent it being used recreationally, but how many people other than experienced druggies know the danger? And what're we saying, really? We'd rather have you die of liver failure than abuse a prescription medication?
A nurse friend of mine talks about heartbreaking cases of kids deliberately trying to suicide on Tylenol, waving cheerily on their way out of the hospital, when she knows they'll be back before long when it catches up to their livers.
Moreover, the damned stuff doesn't work at all for me. I might as well take nothing. And all this has been known about it from the beginning. How in heck it ever got adopted as the "safe" pain reliever for use in hospitals, over good old blood-thinning aspirin, is one of life's great mysteries. And, I suspect, another of life's great mysterious that could be solved by followed the money.
Phew! Now, that feels better...
I thought ibuprofen causes heart failure too.
[Lee thinks American drug enforcers should follow the lead of the UK, which requires products that contain acetaminophen to be packaged in blister packets and sold in small quantities. "I think we should talk about limiting package size," says Lee. "You can buy 500 at a time. They're like M&Ms."]
Yes, I've long said that we need the government to limit our choices as consumers in order to prevent us from hurting ourselves.
After they limit the number of pills we can buy at one time to keep us idiotic peasants from accidentally overdosing, then they can pass a law that puts a limit on how much food we can buy in one serving at a restaurant to prevent us from overeating and getting too fat or developing heart disease.
I hope the sarcasm tag is unnecessary.
Dude, go to CostCo, you can get a bottle of 1200 for the same price.
Pretty much anything has a 1-1,000,000 chance of something, I guess.
I've had doctors contradicting the pharmacist on tylenol vs ibuprofen vs aspirin for a particular ache or pain
This has been known for years,since at least the seventies.
Too much of anything will damage something.
Don't take more than 20 in 24 hours.
>>> Too much of anything will damage something. <<<
Bingo. It's amazing how many people forget that...
Lets see.. can't take Tylonol - bad for my liver.
Can't take aspirin or motrin - bad for my kidney (yes, I have only 1 left).
I guess it's a good thing I rarely get headaches...
I have learned the painful way that the sarcasm tag is always necessary. There's always some moron out there that will take you seriously.
When they start messing with the beer limit, all bets are off.
I'm an aspirin man, myself.
Tylenol has always been the politically correct painkiller.My lefty friends all take it exclusively instead of that capitalist drug aspirin. I have no idea whatever why this seems to be the case.
Your right on the money there. I was put on tylonol (percoset) for a year, and began showing signs of liver damage. it shouldn't be used long term, or in high doses.
I'm still on oxycontin for cronic pain, If I have a headache, I take an asprin. only if the asprin fails to work will I take ONE percoset. If that doesn't work, go to sleep. Strange that oxycontin does nothing for a headache, but does wonders for my spinal injury.
people need to be careful with acetaminaphene, and for God's sake do NOT drink while taking it.
People really have to educate themselves.
My husband had an achy cold...took a dose of Nyquil then asked me "Where's the Tylenol?" I had to point out to him that Nyquil has 1000 mg of Tylenol per dose. Add to the fact that he used to be a heavy drinker...yikes!
Haven't used the brand name in ages. It is about twice as expensive as some other forms of Acetaminophen.
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