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FDA Report Urges Tougher Acetaminophen Warning
Date:5/28/2009

The risk of overdose, and potential liver damage, is still too high, agency says,,

THURSDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- One month after mandating stricter warning labels about the risk of liver damage from the painkiller acetaminophen, U.S. regulators are contemplating even tougher standards.

Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet late next month to review a new agency report that calls for stronger warnings, better consumer education, and limits on doses for both prescription acetaminophen and over-the-counter acetaminophen, best known as Tylenol.

Part of the problem, according to the FDA report, released Wednesday, is that severe liver damage can result from a lack of consumer awareness that acetaminophen can cause such injury. Also, many people may take more than the recommended dose of over-the-counter pain relievers in the mistaken belief that taking more will be more effective against pain without posing health risks. And consumers may not know that acetaminophen is present in many over-the-counter products, including remedies for colds, headaches and fevers, making it possible to exceed the recommended acetaminophen dose.

Despite more than five years of FDA-sponsored consumer education campaigns, "recent studies indicate that unintentional and intentional overdoses leading to severe hepatotoxicity continue to occur," the report said.

The report also calls for limiting the maximum adult daily dose to no more than 3,250 milligrams, but with a lower daily maximum for patients consuming three or more alcoholic drinks every day while using acetaminophen products. It also recommends limiting the tablet strength for immediate-release formulations to a maximum of 325 milligrams, and the single adult dose to a maximum of 650 milligrams.

The recommendations also include:

  • limiting pediatric liquid formulations to one mid-strength concentration (compared to mu
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