More Bad News About Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Overuse

by Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers

Acetaminophen is one of the most common pain relievers in the U.S. It’s also one of the most overused.

A new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that nearly 1 in 4 U.S. adults misunderstands what is a safe dose of Tylenol, the most widely used brand name version of acetaminophen.

Not knowing what is safe, of course, invites overdose. We’ve written in the past about the perils of too much acetaminophen for both children and adults.

The most serious complication is liver damage, which can prompt liver failure and the need for a liver transplant. FDA figures show that more than 50,000 emergency room visits, 25,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths annually are the result of acetaminophen overdose.

The maximum amount adults should take is 4 grams (4,000 mg) per day.

As noted in a story on, researchers for the new study found that nearly 1 in 2 adults is at risk of overdosing because more than one medication containing acetaminophen often are taken simultaneously.

The compound is found in many different over-the-counter drugs, and is popular for reducing fever as well as for pain relief.

In the new study, nearly 1 in 4 patients showed a tendency to overdose on a single over-the-counter acetaminophen product by exceeding four grams per day. Five in 100 exceeded six grams per day.

People more likely to exceed recommended limits by taking more than one product containing the drug were of limited literacy and/or were heavy acetaminophen users.

But the problem isn’t limited to people self-administering the medicine. Last month, AboutLawsuits reported findings presented to a medical conference on digestive diseases that hospitals routinely provide patients with excessive doses of acetaminophen.

Those researchers, from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, found that 2 or 3 in 100 hospital patients are given too much acetaminophen at least one day during their stay.

AboutLawsuits also noted that research published last year showed that even small acetaminophen overdoses are risky. Such “staggered overdoses,” it said, were more likely to cause serious and potentially life-threatening injury from small, accidental overdoses than from large acetaminophen overdoses, such as in a suicide attempt, because the risk of liver damage is not as easily detectable.

Tylenol’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, has been sued several times by people alleging that the company sold the popular painkiller for years without providing adequate warnings about the risks associated with excessive amounts.

Patrick Malone won a landmark lawsuit, Benedi v. McNeil-PPC, against the manufacturer of Tylenol in 1995 for its deficient warnings for alcohol drinkers.

According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of acetaminophen overdose include:

  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • loss of appetite;
  • sweating;
  • extreme tiredness;
  • unusual bleeding or bruising;
  • pain in the upper right part of the stomach;
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes;
  • flu-like symptoms.
Last year, the FDA strengthened warnings about potential liver failure from acetaminophen. A new campaign by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) has just been launched to educate teens, college students and seniors about the drug.

The teen guide is aimed at the parents, coaches, teachers and school health-care providers who influence the attitudes and behavior of younger folks. The guide for college students is geared toward campus leaders, and the effort to reach seniors emphasizes the dangers of drug interaction and that many medications contain acetaminophen.

Always read the label of any medicine you take to relieve pain and lower fever. A list of brand names containing acetaminophen is available at the National Institutes of Health.

If you take acetaminophen: 

To learn more about correct dosing for acetaminophen, visit the website of the

  • Do not take more than one product containing acetaminophen at a time.
  • Read the labels of all the prescription and nonprescription medications you take to see if they contain acetaminophen. (The drug often is abbreviated APAP, AC, Acetaminophn, Acetaminoph, Acetaminop, Acetamin, or Acetam.)
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you aren’t certain whether or not a medication contains acetaminophen.
  • Take it exactly as directed on the prescription or package label. Contact your doctor if you still have pain or fever after taking the medication as directed.
  • Do not exceed 4000 mg (eight extra strength tablets) per day. If you must take more than one product containing acetaminophen, ask a pharmacist to calculate the total amount of acetaminophen.
  • Make sure your medical record reflects any history of liver disease.
  • Tell your doctor if you drink three or more alcoholic drinks every day.
  • Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while taking the drug.
  • Stop taking your medication and call your doctor immediately if you think you have taken too much acetaminophen, even if you feel well.

Acetaminophen Awareness Coalition.



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers

Patrick Malone & Associates P.C. | DC Injury Lawyers on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.