Dangerous doses of acetaminophen are still being sold everywhere

The deadliest drug you can’t get away from

The FDA has finally come out and said it.

Prescription drugs with more than 325 mg of acetaminophen “are no longer considered safe.” And it wants pharmacists to be on the lookout to take them off the shelf and ship them back to the drug companies.

So why is it that you and I can still easily buy the same types of drugs in amounts now being called dangerous?

Unlike the Rx version, no one is watching out for us when we buy these meds OTC.

And that can make them deadly.

Because with these drugs, the difference between a “safe” dose and a dangerous one is razor thin.

Here, there, and everywhere

It’s not hard to do.

You’re taking Extra Strength Tylenol for a headache, but also caught a bug at work. And you need a good night’s sleep. So you take a couple NyQuil.

That’s it.

That’s how easily a simple headache and cold could land you in the hospital…or worse.

Believe it or not, over 78,000 people STILL end up in the ER every year because of acetaminophen (and that’s just in the U.S.!)

And, far worse, hundreds of them die. Every year.

In January, the FDA finally admitted that taking more than 325 mg of acetaminophen just isn’t worth the risk to your liver.

And just last month it finally came forward and warned that any prescription drugs above that strength “are no longer considered safe by FDA.” Drug companies have been voluntarily taking them off the pharmacy shelf. But there still may be some out there.

So it has also asked pharmacists to be on the alert for higher doses. And if they find any, to send them back.

But what about those boxes you can just grab at any Walgreens or 7-11?

Who’s on the “lookout” when you get Tylenol for your arthritis and another drug for your cold? The guy who pumps your gas?

And that’s pretty scary when you hear this warning — direct from a senior FDA scientist.

Giving a “Consumer Corner” talk on acetaminophen safety, the FDA’s Steve Sykes starts out by saying that the drug is “generally safe” at the recommended dose.

“But if you take more than that, even just a little more, it can cause serious, even fatal liver damage.”

And he goes on to warn us how easy it is to overdose. Then he admits that the drug is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States, and that it “might not be clear on the label” that products contain it.

He ends by saying “…if you take acetaminophen, please be careful.”

Really? So now the FDA’s advice to us is “please be careful”?

Fortunately, we know not to rely on the FDA for anything.

So I found an online device called “How much acetaminophen are you taking?” The results are shocking.

To find out if a drug you bought contains it, just put in a brand name and it will tell you.

It will also add up the acetaminophen amounts in different products, and alert you when you are reaching a dangerous — or even deadly dose.

Which, believe it or not, is just a little, tiny bit over what they call a “generally safe” one.

You can find it here.

Sources:
“FDA reminds health care professionals to stop dispensing prescription combination drug products with more than 325 mg of acetaminophen” April 28, 2014, fda.gov

“Over-the-counter pills left out of FDA acetaminophen limits” Jeff Gerth and T. Christian Miller, ProPublica, 1/16/2014, propublica.org

Get urgent health alerts, warnings and insights delivered straight to your inbox