Drug Policy

Killer Painkillers

The war on Tylenol


Stock up on your Vicodin, because it might not be legal for long.

In June an advisory committee recommended that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tighten restrictions on the use of the painkiller acetaminophen in both over-the-counter and prescription medications. In a study conducted between 1998 and 2003, the FDA concluded that overconsumption of acetaminophen was "the leading cause of acute liver failure." 

At issue are "combination medications" such as Tylenol Allergy, which mix acetaminophen with other drugs. The panel worried that combination medications make it difficult for consumers to gauge their total acetaminophen intake, increasing the risk of liver damage. In a lopsided vote, panelists recommended reducing the highest dose allowable in over-the-counter medications. But the panel split on its most controversial decision, approving by a thin margin a recommendation to ban the combination of acetaminophen and narcotics.

Such a prohibition would pull prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet off the pharmacy shelves. The FDA already has ordered the pharmaceutical industry to add prominent liver-damage warnings to medication containing acetaminophen.

The problem of acetaminophen overdoses may be exaggerated. The FDA estimates that 400 Americans die from the drug each year. That's a tiny fraction of the 200 billion doses of acetaminophen sold nationwide last year. According to the FDA, "many cases of liver injury with acetaminophen result from self-harm, i.e., intentional selfpoisoning." Rather than taking effective and commonly used painkillers off the shelves, perhaps the FDA should consider a large-print label reading "Do Not Use to Commit Suicide."

NEXT: Permanent Secrecy

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  1. this is ridiculous. they have lost their fucking minds. so instead of giving the POTENTIALLY dangerous if misused TYLENOL they will give out painkillers that can be potentially dangerous if misused like ibuprofen and aspirin. it is bullshit, less choices for doctors and people in pain or have coughs. tylenol with codeine is almost OTC everywhere else in the world. darvocet is going to go too because of a separate campaign against it by some anti-suicide nuts that have been trying to get it banned since the 70s. so its not just vicodin and percocet, its tylenol with codeine, tylenol with dihydrocodeine, tylenol with oxycodone, tylenol with hydrocodone. I’d bet money that instead of people getting 5mg oxycodone IRs people will get vicoprofen (hydrocodone+ibuprofen) and percodan (oxycodone+aspirin). then it will only be a matter of time until the anti-science, anti-suicide groups attack these options. this is only a problem with patients who are NON-COMPLIANT and misuse the medicine. any recreational drug user that has half a brain knows how to look up maximum tylenol dosage and how to do a cold water extraction.

  2. *oh yeah I did mention darvocet but in that list of tylenol+narcotics it should be: so its not just vicodin and percocet, its tylenol with tramadol, propoxyphene with tylenol, tylenol with pentazocine, tylenol with codeine, tylenol with dihydrocodeine, tylenol with oxycodone, tylenol with hydrocodone.
    fuck the FDA, way to take a shit on our national formulary.

  3. this also means there pretty much is no dihydrocodeine medications anymore because I am fairly certain there are no pure dihydrocodeine medications or at least none with tylenol marketed in the US.

  4. *I meant: fairly certain there are no pure dihydrocodeine medications or at least none WITHOUT tylenol marketed in the US.

  5. Funny, the FDA think that people aren’t capable of measuring their acetaminophen intake, but Ohio thinks that people should be able to calculate the amount of pseudo ephedrine they purchase. I feel like maybe there should be some rectification, here.

  6. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets…in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it’s literally a labyrinth, that’s no joke

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