NEWSBRIEF: The U.S. FDA says it's asking the makers of combination painkillers to limit the amount of acetaminophen the drugs contain and to start including warning labels about the dangers of liver damage. Acetaminophen is the drug in Tylenol.
This will effect several of the drugs that are commonly used to treat fibromyalgia pain, including Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen), and Tylenol with codeine. The level of acetaminophen in these drugs will drop to a maximum of 325 mg.
The FDA says the dosage change will be phased in over three years, which should help avoid any shortages of medication.
The issue behind the change is the high rate of liver toxicity acetaminophen overdose can cause. Often, people taking a combination drug don't realize they've even taken it, or that they've taken the maximum dosage, and they take Tylenol on top of it. Also, because many people build up a tolerance to narcotics over time, they can wind up taking unsafe doses of acetaminophen (and the narcotic as well.) It's also common for people to regard acetaminophen as safe and simply ignore dosage instructions.
If you take a combination painkiller, this change will probably effect your medication. I currently have a prescription for a low dose of Vicodin, which contains 5 mg of hydrocodone and 500 mg of acetaminiphen, so eventually I'll be getting a lower dosage.
The FDA says it believes these medications will be safer and will still be effective for pain. My concern is that if they're less effective, people may take additional Tylenol and wind up getting more than what used to be in their meds; I really hope I'm wrong and that this will help people understand that too much acetaminophen is extremely dangerous.
The FDA had considered banning combination products completely, so this with this it's taking a middle-ground approach. Do you think it was the right way to go? Should they have banned combination drugs? Are you upset that your medication will be changing? How important do you think the acetaminophen is to these drugs' effectiveness? Leave your comments below!
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