LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | Jul 23, 2010

Dangerous Drug: Acetaminophen Risks & Lawsuit Information

Acetaminophen, commonly known in such name brands as Tylenol, is a pain reliever and fever reducing medication that is sold over-the-counter in various strengths and forms (e.g. capsules, tablets, liquid like in Nyquil). Additionally, it can be found combined with prescription pain medication such as Vicodin and Percocet. This drug is relatively safe; and for many people, it is moderately to highly effective in pain and fever reduction.

Adverse Risks and Side Effects

Over the past several years, studies have proven that excessive use of acetaminophen can lead to serious liver damage and/or liver failure. Signs of liver disease include: jaundice (the yellowing of skin color), a drop in appetite that can turn to weight loss, light coloration of stool, bloating and distention, excessive thirst and frequent urination.

Since acetaminophen is sold over-the-counter, many people think it's safe not to follow the dosage instructions; this can lead to overdose. Common side effects of overdose include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Jaundice
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Note: Symptoms may not occur until 12 or more hours after the acetaminophen was taken.

Acetaminophen Lawsuits & Alerts

In 2009 the FDA recommended stronger safety warnings and dosage limits to be placed on acetaminophen products, in both over-the-counter and prescription products. The FDA report states, "There is extensive evidence that hepatotoxicity (liver toxicity) caused by acetaminophen use may result from lack of consumer awareness that acetaminophen can cause severe liver injury." And, "Consumers may not be aware that acetaminophen is present in many over-the-counter combination products, so they may unknowingly exceed the recommended acetaminophen dose if they take more than one acetaminophen product without knowing that both contain acetaminophen."

Additionally, there was a study published in the medical journal CHEST that associated acetaminophen with cases of asthma in children. There are no specific settlements related to acetaminophen but there are class action lawsuits related to liver injury due to overdose.

How to Get Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered from liver failure or overdose from using Tylenol or other drugs containing acetaminophen, you may qualify for damages that may be awarded in a possible class-action lawsuit.

Many lawyers and attorneys offer legal help in cases where a patient has suffered severe injury as a result from taking a drug or if the drug was incorrectly prescribed by the doctor. To find out if you have a valid case, you should seek out a personal injury attorney who specializes in product liability cases. The attorney will let you know if you have enough evidence to prove that acetaminophen caused your injuries and the amount of damages you might be able to recover. Do not wait to have this evaluation; your state has a limit on the time (statute of limitations) you have to file a product liability lawsuit from the time the injury was incurred.

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