The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) advises consumers to take acetaminophen products as recommended on the labeling and seek guidance from pharmacists or other healthcare providers on evaluating medication options. This recommendation comes as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) convened a public advisory committee meeting on June 29 and June 30, 2009 regarding acetaminophen use in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription (Rx) products, the potential for liver injury, and potential interventions to reduce the incidence of liver injury.
The committee recommended a range of options for the FDA to consider from putting warning labels on products to pulling certain medicines from the market. The FDA will take the recommendations into consideration before taking any action and is not obligated to follow the recommendations of the advisory committee.
“Acetaminophen is an effective, long utilized medication in relieving patient pain and fever, and is considered safe when used according to the directions on product labeling,” said Ed Hamilton, PharmD, FAPhA, and APhA President. “As the FDA considers the recommendations made by the committee, we urge consumers not to panic, but to take acetaminophen containing products and any other medicines as directed by the product label or prescription label. Consumers are also encouraged to ask questions. Pharmacists are here to answer consumers questions about medications and can help them identify which ones may have acetaminophen.”
What should consumers do?
- If taking acetaminophen containing products (commonly referred to as Tylenol® or APAP), always take according to current directions and dosing instructions.
- Healthy adults should not exceed 4 grams (4000mg) of acetaminophen per day. Others should seek advice from their pharmacist or other health care provider for appropriate dosing limits.
- Always read OTC and Rx medication labels before each use, follow the directions, and if you have questions, ask the pharmacist or other health care provider.
- If a dosing device is included with a specific medication, use only that device for that medication.
- Check the active ingredients of OTC and Rx medications to ensure that multiple products do not contain acetaminophen. Generally, taking multiple products containing acetaminophen is not advisable due to the risk of exceeding the maximum daily dose and liver damage.
- Store all medications appropriately, keep all medications out of the reach of children, and always return medications to a proper storage location following each use.
- Seek medical advice immediately if you or someone you know may have taken too much acetaminophen.
- Advise your health care providers of all Rx, OTC, herbal and dietary supplement products taken regularly or on an as needed basis.
About the American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, represents more than 62,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. APhA members provide care in all practice settings, including community pharmacies, health systems, long-term care facilities, managed care organizations, hospice settings, and the uniformed services.