28 billion doses of acetaminophen per year sold in the US; liver damage caused by acetaminophen leads to 400 deaths and 42,000 hospitalizations/year; why not recommend NAC (N-acetylcysteine) as antidote?

We read with interest in the New York Times on July 1 that the FDA had convened a panel to advise on how to deal with the medical problems arising from the extraordinary popularity of acetaminophen (most commonly recognized tradename: Tylenol) in the US.

Since acetaminophen is often part of a combination medication, the potential for people to accidentally overdose on it is ever present. Overdoses of acetaminophen now represent the leading cause of liver damage in the US. In hopes of reducing some of these accidents, the FDA advisory panel voted to recommend lowering the highest allowable dose of acetaminophen in over-the-counter pills like Tylenol; the panel also voted to recommend a ban on some narcotics that typically are paired with acetaminophen.

Our thought, as in the past on this blog: why not encourage drug manufacturers to pair acetaminophen with NAC (N-acetylcysteine), a known antidote to acetaminophen poisoning, widely used for that purpose in Europe? Certainly we recommend to NYBC members that if they must used acetaminophen, they also take NAC for protection as well.

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