Got a headache or a sore back? If you're like many Americans, you may be tempted to reach for a bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol to ease your pain. But just what is the dosage of the medication you are taking? And how will it react with any other medications you are taking? Again, if you're like many Americans, you have no idea. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging drug makers to limit the dosage of acetaminophen - the drug found in Tylenol - in prescription medications to prevent accidental overdoses when those medication are combined with one another or with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that contain the drug.
"Many consumers are often unaware that many products (both prescription and OTC) contain acetaminophen, making it easy to accidentally take too much," the FDA said in a statement Tuesday.
The FDA is asking health health professionals stop prescribing combination drugs, such as Percocet, Vicodin, or Tylenol with Codeine that contain more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen per dosage unit, citing the risk of possible liver damage. The agency stated that limiting the amount of acetaminophen per dosage unit will reduce the risk of severe liver damage from an inadvertent acetaminophen overdose, which can lead to liver failure, liver transplant, and death.
"There are no available data to show that taking more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit provides additional benefit that outweighs the added risks for liver injury," the statement read.
Three years ago, the FDA asked drug makers to limit the amount of acetaminophen in their medications. More than half complied. But that still leaves a number of medications with more than 325 mg of acetaminophen on the market. Hence this new warning directed to the health care providers prescribing the medications. The agency says it plans to address the dosage of acetaminophen in OTC drugs in the future.
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