acetaminophen

Dr. Cox: Did you actually just page me to find out how much Tylenol to give to Mrs. Lendsner?

J.D.: I was worried that it could exacerbate the patient's... 

Dr. Cox: It's regular strength Tylenol. Here's what-chya do: Get her to open her mouth, take a handful, and throw it at her. Whatever sticks, that's the correct dosage.

Of Dr. Cox's many rants on the comedy show Scrubs, this is definitely one of the funnier and more memorable1. However, it isn't quite accurate.

Tylenol (a.k.a. acetaminophen or paracetamol2), unbeknownst to many, is actually a fairly toxic drug. Its ubiquity has lulled us into a false sense of security about its safety. But as our resident chemist Dr. Josh Bloom...

knee arthritis via shutterstock Knee Arthritis via shutterstock

People with various aches and pains seek relief from a variety of medicines — it used to be that aspirin was the go-to analgesic, but it was mostly replaced with Advil and Aleve.

We now know that aspirin (an example of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or NSAID drug) can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, among other ills, as do Advil and Aleve....

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 1.07.57 PMTylenol (generic name acetaminophen) is one of the most widely used non-presciption drugs for pain and fever. It is generally not regarded to be as effective as nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Advil and Aleve, or aspirin, but it has two primary advantages. First, it does not cause gastric irritation, which can be severe, and is almost always seen when NSAIDs are used, especially long-term. Second, it does not cause bleeding a major disadvantage of the NSAIDs.

As such, many people regard it as a very safe drug, which it is, with one major exception: It...

imagesWe tend to think of over the counter (OTC) drugs for pain relief as interchangeable but this can be a dangerous misconception. Depending on the type of injury or pain and the condition of the person involved, taking the wrong one can be ineffective at best and downright harmful at the worst.

In a Wall Street Journal review of the two most popular OTC pain relievers ibuprofen and acetaminophen Sumathi Reddy points out the differences between them, and the most effective use for each.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)...

Dr. Josh Bloom on Science 2.0, March 3, 2015

I never know what I'm going to find on the editorial pages of the New York Times. Sometimes I agree with them, and sometimes I don't. But, they usually, at the very least, make sense.

That streak ended on March 2nd, when the Times printed an editorial titled "Painkillers Abuses and Ignorance." The paper really dropped the ball on this one. After reading it, I was left wondering whose ignorance...[Read more].

drugs-e1349801738965-225x138-1Acetaminophen is recommended as a first-line treatment for acute lower back pain according to medical guidelines. However, this recommendation has not been supported by research. A new study published in The Lancet found that acetaminophen is no better than a placebo in treating back pain.

Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled study of about 1600 people with acute, low back pain. Participants...

180509079Acetaminophen is commonly used by pregnant mothers to treat pain and fever and is generally considered to be safe. However, a new study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that use of acetaminophen during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of behavioral problems in offspring, specifically attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study should be interpreted...

2171_4891In the past few years much attention has been paid to the toxicity of acetaminophen, (the generic name for Tylenol). And with good reason.

Although acetaminophen has long been portrayed as a safe alternative to nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, this common knowledge has recently been challenged. Although acetaminophen is much easier on the stomach than NSAIDs, a dose only moderately higher than the maximum recommended daily maximum (changed by the FDA in 2009 from 4,000 mg to 3,000 mg) can result in irreversible liver damage. In fact...

153703240Doesn t the FDA have better things to do?

Today we saw the mother of all scares, courtesy of Sharon Hertz, deputy director of the FDA s Division of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Addiction.

For reasons that are entirely unclear, the FDA decided that acetaminophen (Tylenol) must now carry an additional warning that the drug can cause Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a very serious (and potentially fatal) condition where epidermal cells die, causing the skin to slough off the body. SJS is an acute...