For years, acetaminophen has been one of the most commonly used drugs in the U.S., taken by consumers all over the country to treat minor conditions like headaches, fever, colds, coughs and the flu. In fact, in 2005, consumers purchased more than 28 billion doses of products containing acetaminophen, including the popular Johnson & Johnson product, Tylenol. The brand name Tylenol is actually owned by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of J&J, and was initially marketed as Tylenol Elixir for children in 1955. Since that time, acetaminophen (Tylenol) has become widely used by adults and children alike, and can be found in nearly every medicine cabinet in the United States. Despite its popularity though, health regulators have cautioned consumers against excessive use of acetaminophen, due to the drug’s ability to cause serious liver injury side effects in patients. If you took acetaminophen and have since suffered from an acetaminophen overdose or acute liver failure, contact an acetaminophen attorney for legal help.
Despite efforts by drug regulators to reduce the incidence of acetaminophen-related liver injury, the extent of liver failure cases reported in medical literature indicates that liver injury caused by acetaminophen overdose is still a serious public health problem. Acetaminophen overdose typically results in symptoms like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, appetite loss, irritability and sweating. According to the FDA, exceeding the daily recommended dose of acetaminophen can result in severe liver injury, and may even cause death. The FDA warns that acetaminophen overdose is such a serious problem that it resulted in about 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 458 deaths between the years 1990 and 1998.
Acetaminophen is metabolized in the liver, which produces a by-product that can seriously damage the organ. In most instances, this by-product is converted into a harmless substance by an antioxidant in the body. However, taking large doses of acetaminophen can overwhelm this antioxidant, possibly resulting in serious liver injury and possibly life-threatening acute liver failure. Liver failure is characterized by symptoms like bleeding easily, jaundice, swollen abdomen, and possibly even coma. According to the FDA, between 1998 and 2003, acetaminophen was the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, with 48% of acetaminophen-related instances caused by accidental acetaminophen overdose.
Liver failure caused by accidental acetaminophen overdose is serious enough, but studies have actually indicated that liver injury may even affect individuals taking normal doses of acetaminophen on a daily basis. According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, even healthy adults taking the maximum daily recommended dose of acetaminophen for two weeks had abnormal liver test results. In 2009, the FDA issued a final regulation requiring stronger warnings for acetaminophen-containing products like Tylenol, due to the risk of liver injury caused by acetaminophen overdose. In July 2011, Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson decreased the maximum daily recommended dose of its pain reliever from 4,000mg to 3,000mg, in an effort to reduce the risk of liver damage from acetaminophen overdose.
The danger associated with acetaminophen overdose and liver failure is serious, due in large part to the fact that many consumers believe acetaminophen to be side effect-free. Unfortunately, recent studies have established a potential connection between even normal acetaminophen use and life-threatening liver injury side effects. If you took acetaminophen and have since suffered from acetaminophen overdose or liver failure, contact an experienced acetaminophen attorney today. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, which you can pursue by filing an acetaminophen lawsuit against the allegedly negligent drug company. You are not at fault for the side effects caused by a dangerous medication, and you should not be forced to shoulder the resulting consequences on your own. By hiring a qualified acetaminophen lawyer to represent your case, you can seek fair and timely reimbursement and protect yourself and your family from further harm.