Daily Archives: May 31st, 2009

Health Alert (8): Pain-Killers That Can Kill

Weeks after reading in the local papers about a 7 year-old boy that died after taking paracetamol (aka Panadol aka acetaminophen aka Tylenol) for fever at an adult dosage of 4000mg per day, my attention was directed to the coincidental release about this drug by the US Food & Drug  Administration. The FDA have now issued warning guidelines on the use of this popular pain-killer, generally regarded as one of the safest around and sold everywhere over-the-counter, without the need for a doctor’s prescription.


The most popular brand of paracetamol worldwide


..popular in the United States

The news release requires that the labeling must warn of the risks of stomach bleeding in alcohol-users and severe liver damage from overdosage. The latter has been blamed for many deaths arising from overuse of this drug.

The report also calls for limiting the maximum adult daily dose to no more than 3,250 milligrams (one paracetamol tablet is usually 500 milligrams, so that means the current recommended dosage of up to 4000 milligrams is already too high), but with a lower daily maximum for patients consuming three or more alcoholic drinks every day. For kids, all liquid forms (syrups) need to be in a single medium strength formulation with much lower dose recommendations.

My take on this is that every drug you take can have side-effects – its a question of balancing the pros and cons and,of course, taking it correctly!

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