Johnson and Johnson said Thursday that it is reducing the maximum daily dose of Extra Strength Tylenol to reduce the risk of consumers accidentally overdosing from acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol and a top cause for liver failure. Extra Strength Tylenol is the number one over-the-counter pain medication in the United States with over 50 million Americans using it each week to treat pain, fever, and other conditions associated with cold, flu, and allergy symptoms.
The current dosage of 4000 mg per day or eight pills is being lowered to 3000 mg per day or six pills. Doctors say that acetaminophen is common in many prescription medications as well as over the counter medications and many times people do not realize the amount they are actually taking because of failure to properly read directions on labels.
Another problem according to Dr. Michael Wolf, associate division chief of General Internal Medicine at Northwestern University, is that people don’t feel like they have to stick to the recommended daily dose. Presumably because they feel Tylenol is a safe drug and nothing harmful will happen when they don’t follow the recommended dosage. Though Doctors warn that an overdose can easily cause liver damage, possibly resulting in death. Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States, with 56,000 Americans going to the hospital each year, with 400 of those cases resulting in death.
Dr. Wolf feels that Tylenol is moving in the right direction with the decrease in recommended dosage. He also says that, “We need to work on public awareness of what’s in medicine, and how it can harm you. We need people to understand that there’s a limit to how much can be taken and why it is important not to take too much.”
Johnson and Johnson’s dosage change will take effect for Extra Strength Tylenol by the fall of this year and the company will lower the maximum daily dose for Regular Strength Tylenol and other acetaminophen containing products for adults starting in 2012. At the Persons Firm we decided to write this article to help spread the word about the significant dangers of taking too much acetaminophen.