I can almost guarantee it’s lurking in your medicine cabinet at this very moment.
And I’d bet my life that this killer is in the home of someone you care about.
It’s responsible for at least 56,000 ER visits every year, 26,000 hospitalizations, and hundreds of deaths. Yet when we think about it… if we ever do… its reputation for being “gentle enough for babies” makes it easy to dismiss any threat to our life.
But the reality is, you—or someone you love—could be just a couple of pills away from severe liver damage or even death.
And, unfortunately, I’m not being at all dramatic. In fact, even those do-nothings over at the FDA have admitted this is true…for all the good it’s done us (more on that in a minute).
The killer is acetaminophen, and I’ve been warning my readers and patients about its dangerous side effects for many years.
Acetaminophen is an “everything AND the kitchen sink” drug. Big Pharma likes to toss it into their most popular combo products like it’s some sort of added value bonus gift. You’ll find it hiding in plain sight in Alka Seltzer Plus, Excedrin, Robitussin, Dayquil, Dimetapp, Benadryl, Midol, Nyquil, and - of course – Tylenol—to name just a few.
And with it in literally hundreds of common over-the-counter drugs, as well as prescription meds like Percocet and Oxycodone, it’s easy to see how treating a backache and a case of the sniffles in the same day could suddenly add up to toxic levels.
Acetaminophen side effects linked to liver failure
This is not a new problem. We’ve known for years that the side effects of too much acetaminophen can lead to tragedy. Back in 2011—years after some of us had been sounding the alarm—some suit at the FDA finally fired up his keyboard and dashed off one of the agency’s infamous “statements.” In it, the feds admitted that overdoses of the drug are a leading cause of liver failure.
And that’s pretty much all they did.
The agency did nothing concrete to help prevent accidental overdoses. They simply requested that manufacturers (pretty please) consider reducing the amount of acetaminophen in their prescription products to 325 mg or less. And, as you can probably guess, nearly half of those manufacturers simply ignored the toothless recommendation.
Are you one pill away from death?
In the years since that request, we’ve seen thousands of people succumb to acetaminophen-linked liver failure, and hundreds more die. In fact, it’s by far THE most common cause of liver failure in this country. And now, three years later, the FDA has issued yet another statement on the drug, because, you know, that worked so well before.
This time around they’re targeting doctors and pharmacists.
They’ve asked docs to consider only prescribing combo drug products that contain no more than 325 mg of acetaminophen. And what if that doesn’t work? Don’t worry; the FDA’s got a backup plan for that, too. They’ve asked pharmacists to call prescribing doctors if they happen to notice that a patient is getting over 325 mg of the drug.
Setting aside the laughable idea that a pharmacist could actually just make a call and get right through to your doctor, this backup plan is still full of more holes than a block of your finest Swiss cheese.
I don’t know about you, but the last time a pharmacist actually took the time to go over even basic prescribing information with me was probably during Bush Senior’s administration. Counting on them to do the math on this for us is just foolhardy.
Even worse, your pharmacist will have no idea what over-the-counter products you’re taking. So even if he’s doing a bang up job, and does make that phone call to your doctor, you may still be just a pill or two away from an accidental overdose, acute liver failure or even death.
Toss out the Tylenol, try this instead
And if you’re wondering what the feds are doing about the over-the-counter medications that contain high doses of acetaminophen, well I can tell you in two words: 1. Absolutely 2. Nothing.
The FDA freely admits there isn’t a shred of evidence that acetaminophen in doses greater than 325 mg provide any benefits that could possibly outweigh the risk of liver damage, yet they’re not doing a thing to curb the excessive amounts found in many over-the-counter meds.
In fact, you can purchase products containing far more than 325 mg of this potential killer in any grocery or drug store. For example, a single caplet of Tylenol Complete Cold, Cough & Flu Nighttime contains a staggering 500 mg of acetaminophen!
But that’s okay, because I have a foolproof plan of my own. There’s actually just one step. Open your medicine cabinet and grab every single last one of the acetaminophen-laced drugs you find and toss them into the trash can. There are much better and safer choices for pain relief anyway.
Try some natural anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin, arnica and MSM. If you haven't tried Soothanol yet, I can highly recommend it for aches and pains... it REALLY works. Butterbur, feverfew and B vitamins can help with migraines. And since low vitamin D levels have been linked to some headaches and menstrual cramps, keep your levels topped up.