Local News

Sep 3, 2013 1:30 PM by Rachel Cole - rcole@kristv.com

Painkiller is Leading Cause of Sudden Liver Failure in the U.S.

CORPUS CHRISTI - Popping a pill, like Tylenol, may cure the common headache but FDA officials say the main ingredient in the over-the-counter drug is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States.

Some people, like John Martinez who suffers from severe back pain, says, that known side effect has him replacing his current pain relief remedies.

"Tylenol sort of upsets my stomach if I take it alone for a headache or body ache," Martinez said.

He added that his doctor recently switched him from hydrocodone to a different medication.

"They put on narco that supposedly does not have tylenol because of some issues that people were abusing that," Martinez said.

Local pharmacist, Ron Garza says Tylenol works for pain and fevers and no doubt can cure a headache but they do come with side effects just like any other medication and consumers should take precaution.

"Now, with people taking more and more pain medication, whether it be prescription medication with acetaminophen in it or over the counter Tylenol, Johnson and Johnson I believe is concerned with some type of liver toxicity being associated with it," Garza said.

Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the nation according to health officials. So, in order to caution consumers, Garza points out that companies now have new warning labels, front and center on the packaging. Officials say this is in hopes preventing overdoses that are connected to liver failure.

"Overdosing on acetaminophen has always been an issue connected with liver toxicity," Garza added.

While, liver failure is not always a result of drug abuse and could be linked to liver disease and alcohol abuse, Garza says people seeking pain relief should be mindful of how many milligrams they're taking.

"Two is good but 4 is even better and folks will take a gram every 4-6 hours which puts pressure and stress on your liver and your kidneys for that matter," Garza added.

Garza says for those experiencing constant pain and feeling the need to take Tylenol regularly they should visit their doctor.

Meanwhile, Johnson and Johnson has launched new bottle caps in the hopes of eliminating Tylenol overdoses. The new caps will bare a red label alerting users to the potentially fatal risks of taking more than the recommended amount. They will be on bottles for Extra Strength Tylenol sold in the U.S. starting in October.

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