Feb. 3, 2006
Popular Painkiller Acetaminophen Linked to Large Increase in Cases of Potentially Fatal Liver Failure, Public Citizen Writes in New Posting on WorstPills.org Web site
Worst Pills, Best Pills Readers Also Receive Life-Saving Warnings About Dangerous Drugs Before They Are Removed From the Market
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The popular painkiller acetaminophen (the only ingredient in Tylenol) is linked to a rapidly increasing number of fatal acute liver failure cases, Public Citizen writes in a new February posting on its WorstPills.org Web site. The consumer advocacy organization cited recent research showing that the percentage of all cases of potentially fatal acute liver failure that were associated with the use of acetaminophen rose from 28 percent in 1998 to 51 percent of all cases in 2003 in the United States.
Consumers can prevent acetaminophen liver damage by carefully reading the labels on all over-the-counter drug products to see if they contain acetaminophen, by not taking more than one acetaminophen-containing drug, whether it is prescription or over-the-counter, and by being extremely careful if using alcohol with the drug.
Worst Pills, Best Pillsis a monthly newsletter available in print and electronically through Public Citizen’s Web site, www.WorstPills.org. The article about acetaminophen will be available free on the site for the next seven days, and the site has other searchable information about the uses, risks and adverse effects associated with prescription medications, including all information from Public Citizen’s bestselling book, Worst Pills, Best Pills.
“Worst Pills is an unbiased analysis of unpublished data obtained from the Food and Drug Administration and other sources, including well-regarded medical journals, that allow us to sound the alarm for consumers long before they are warned or banned by the federal government,” said Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director and founder of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.
The February updates to the Web site also give consumers information about antibiotic-associated diarrhea and increased mortality in elderly patients with dementia taking certain antipsychotic drugs like Zyprexa.
The site is particularly valuable because Public Citizen has a strong track record of identifying dangerous drugs well before federal regulators take action to ban or put warnings on these drugs. For example, Public Citizen warned consumers about the dangers of Vioxx, ephedra, Baycol and Propulsid years before the drugs were pulled from the market.