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The facts on acetaminophen


An aspirin alternative in use for five decades to reduce pain and fever.


Has been a leading cause of liver injury for more than a decade, an advisory panel to the FDA said. Acetaminophen use is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the 1,600 cases seen each year in the United States, according to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate.

Many cases of overdose are caused by consumers inadvertently taking more than the recommended dose.


Prescription acetaminophen combination drugs were prescribed 200 million times last year.

U.S. consumers purchased more than 28 billion doses of over-the-counter products containing acetaminophen in 2005.

What's next

The FDA weighs the panel's advice before making final decisions. The agency's not required to follow the advice of its panels, though it usually does.

SOURCES: CDC, FDA, wire services

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