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17 Jan 2014 08:55:51 MST Written by: Health Library

FDA Wants Cut in Acetaminophen Dosage

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to cut back on the amount of acetaminophen in pills. The concern is over liver damage from higher dosages. (Read about "The Liver" "Medicine Safety")

FDA is recommending health care professionals discontinue prescribing and dispensing prescription combination drug products that contain more than 325 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen per tablet, capsule or other dosage unit. FDA says 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. Further, limiting the amount of acetaminophen per dosage unit will reduce the risk of severe liver injury from inadvertent acetaminophen overdose, which can lead to liver failure, liver transplant, and death.

Cases of severe liver injury with acetaminophen have occurred in patients who:

  • took more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period
  • took more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time
  • drank alcohol while taking acetaminophen products

In January 2011 FDA asked manufacturers of prescription combination drug products containing acetaminophen to limit the amount of acetaminophen to no more than 325 mg in each tablet or capsule by January 14, 2014. FDA requested this action to protect consumers from the risk of severe liver damage which can result from taking too much acetaminophen. This category of prescription drugs combines acetaminophen with another ingredient intended to treat pain (most often an opioid), and these products are commonly prescribed to consumers for pain, such as pain from acute injuries, post-operative pain, or pain following dental procedures.

Acetaminophen is also widely used as an over-the-counter (OTC) pain and fever medication, and is often combined with other ingredients, such as cough and cold ingredients. FDA says it will address OTC acetaminophen products in another regulatory action.

Many consumers are often unaware that many products (both prescription and OTC) contain acetaminophen, making it easy to accidentally take too much.

More than half of manufacturers have voluntarily complied with the FDA request. However, some prescription combination drug products containing more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit remain available. In the near future FDA intends to institute proceedings to withdraw approval of prescription combination drug products containing more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dosage unit that remain on the market.

1/16/2014

Note: Statements and conclusions of study authors that are published here are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect this hospital's policy or position. This hospital makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability.

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