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FDA warns about side effects caused by too much acetaminophen

Mixing over-the-counter drugs with prescription drugs does not ordinarily seem like a risky choice to make. After all, most drugs sold without a prescription are not dangerous when taken by most patients. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now insists that taking too much of one ingredient found in both prescription and over-the-counter medications can lead to dangerous drug side effects.

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in the popular and readily available drug Tylenol. It is also present in numerous other over-the-counter medications and in numerous prescription medications including hydrocodone and oxycodone, otherwise known as Vicodin and Percocet. The FDA has now determined that physicians should no longer prescribe medications containing over 325 mg of acetaminophen per single dosage.

In addition, consumers should not ingest any medications of any kind that contain more than this particular limit of acetaminophen. Though the FDA is not currently updating warnings for over-the-counter products containing acetaminophen, the risks of taking more than 325 mg of acetaminophen at a time are the same no matter what the source of the ingredient is.

This is a particularly pressing issue because, “Many consumers are often unaware that many products (both prescription and OTC) contain acetaminophen, making it easy to accidentally take too much,” according to a statement released by the FDA this past week.

Exceeding this particular dosage of acetaminophen places patients at risk for suffering liver damage. And according to the FDA, the benefits of higher doses of acetaminophen do not outweigh the liver-related risks to patients.

Source: CNN, “FDA: Acetaminophen doses over 325 mg might lead to liver damage,” Holly Yan, Jan. 15, 2014

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