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FDA announces plan to limit acetaminophen use

On January 14, the FDA announced that it would finally take action because too many patients poison themselves with the nation's most popular pain-killer. The FDA has given manufacturers three years to reformulate durgs like Percocet and Vicodin which combine acetaminophen with a narcotic: in future they will be allowed to contain no more than 325 mg of acetaminophen (in some cases a fifty percent reduction).

An advisory panel suggested 18 months ago that the government ban the latter medications as well as any over-the-counter formulation of acetaminophen with more than  325 mg of active ingredient.  The agency also plans stronger warning labels of the overdose risk. 

The New York Times reported that even recommended doses of acetaminophen (or APAP, or paracetamol) can cause liver failure or damage, and that 400 overdose deaths occur in the U.S. each year.  The drug also causes 42,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. annually.  Apparently, overdose frequently results from the use of more than one pain-killer or cough and cold remedy where the patient is unaware of the presence of acetaminophen in each of the products.

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