In recent years, the link between Tylenol and liver damage has prompted lawsuit actions against McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the manufacturer of the drug. Acetaminophen is the primary ingredient in this medication and is an effective analgesic, or painkiller. Since its invention in 1955, the drug has become one of the most popular analgesics in the country. However, the risks associated with acetaminophen have been known since the 1960s and include organ failure. In fact, acetaminophen is among the deadliest drugs sold over the counter, killing more than 100 people every year in the country.
Acetaminophen is hepatotoxic, which means it causes chemical harm to the liver. Most of the blood this organ receives is delivered directly from the GI system. This means the organ is exposed to near undiluted concentrations of acetaminophen. This is particularly dangerous because its presence can create chemical imbalances in the organ or kill tissues. People who consume alcohol regularly are at an even greater risk and must closely monitor their intake of the medication. Monitoring its effects on the body is more difficult, though, because any adverse effects will take hours before they present themselves. Symptoms of acetaminophen effects include nausea and unusual bleeding or bruising.
The FDA has long tracked the effects of the medication, even calling for label advisories since 1977. However, advisories weren’t actually placed until 2006. This 30 year lag between recommendation and action has kept many people from making a smart decision regarding the medication. Also, while it’s the link between Tylenol and liver damage that’s prompted lawsuit actions, the FDA has ordered several recalls of the product for various reasons. Contamination is the primary reason that the drug has been pulled off the market several times, and this suggests that the manufacturer is not maintaining proper safety checks of its product.
In general, non-alcohol users are safe if they do not take more than the recommended dosage of acetaminophen. For most adults, this no more than 4,000 milligrams in a single day. However, even a small overdose can cause extreme adverse effects. Over-the-counter painkillers are rated according to the therapeutic index. This index records the ratio between therapeutic doses and doses causing fatal injury. Acetaminophen has a much smaller ratio than all other over-the-counter painkillers, making it one of the riskiest drugs a person can take without prescription. It is so risky, in fact, that acetaminophen usage is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S., beyond alcohol use and other diseases.
This connection between Tylenol and liver damage has forced lawsuit actions in many states, and dozens of claims are awaiting review in federal courts. Some of these claims have been consolidated, but many have not. McNeil Consumer Healthcare is a huge pharmaceutical company, so taking it to court can be a daunting prospect. For this reason, a victim should consider speaking to an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action regarding filing a claim and assessing fair compensation.