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Tylenol Kills ThousandsDr. Phillip Leveque Professor of Pharmacology
I am writing this as a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology in medical schools. I have known about this extreme hazard for at least sixty years and I am astonished that it took the FDA sixty years to do something, meager as it is.
(PORTLAND, OR) - The headline, warning: this common painkiller may cause liver damage, was a report initiated by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) that doctors should limit prescribing combination medications that Tylenol, which is acetaminophen, since an excess make cause severe liver damage, leading to death.
This exposes the well known phenomenon of a doctor's advice to a patient, "Take two and if that doesn't work, take one more, but don't take anymore." The patient assumes that if one more won't harm, why not take two or even three? That is where the trouble starts.
The usual dose of Tylenol is 325 milligrams. The FDA recommends that an adult take no more than 4,000 milligrams per day but this is getting into a lethal dose and it is unlikely that a person should not take more than 1,000 milligrams.
Pharmacology professors and the poison control centers in the US have known about this toxicity for at least fifty years. The American Association of Poison Control Centers gave this report in 2001, about Tylenol:
At present, the annual deaths are in the thousands and about 100,000 calls to poison control centers. Tylenol is linked to more deaths than any other similar medicine.
It is important to note that aspirin does also cause death in high doses which, because it is acid-like --- it removes the lining of the stomach and the person can bleed to death. Other similar drugs have not been reported to cause these consequences.
Tylenol has a sad history in other countries because of its liver toxicity. It is illegal to use in China with a population of one billion, two hundred million people. Other countries may have similar restrictions.
It seems obvious to me that the pharmaceutical lobby in Congress has much to do with this. The FDA's "weak, slap on the wrist action" is a weak approach. They know that Tylenol is severely damaging, toxic and even lethal. It would be best if we didn't have it available. Young children use sweet syrups of Tylenol and drink lots of it. The end result is frequently death.
I am writing this as a Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology in medical schools. I have known about this extreme hazard for at least sixty years and I am astonished that it took the FDA sixty years to do something, meager as it is. It is unlikely that many people will even hear about new restrictions, and still be in danger. It would be best for all of us if Tylenol were banned at any dose.
As you read this story, hundreds of patients are in hospitals and ER's trying to escape death.
By the way, I must say that small doses of marijuana/cannabis will supplant any and all of this kind of medicine without any danger of adverse effects or death.
Marijuana is the Safest, Most Effective Painkiller
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