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OTC Overdose: Concerns About Tylenol

Published: August 1, 2011

Last Thursday, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the makers of Tylenol, announced plans to lower the maximum daily dosage of the popular drug from 6 pills (4000 mg) to 4 pills (3000 mg) per day. These changes were facilitated with the FDA in an effort to reduce liver damage from accidental overdoses.

Dr. Edwin Kuffner, Vice-president of OTC medical affairs and clinical research at McNeil, assured consumers that when taken as directed, acetaminophen (aka Tylenol), is perfectly safe. Dr. Kuffner told CNN correspondent Saundra Young:


“Some people accidentally exceed the recommended dose when taking multiple products at the same time, often without realizing they contain acetaminophen or by not reading and following the dosing instructions…McNeil is revising its labels for products containing acetaminophen in an attempt to decrease the likelihood of accidental overdosing in those instances.”


In fact, acetaminophen is an ingredient in over 600 different medications, some of which you wouldn’t necessary expect, such as NyQuil or Alka Seltzer.

If all of this is beginning to sound familiar, it is because I blogged on this exact subject two an a half months ago, long before McNeil announced their changes. You can find that blog here:


For the record, despite Dr. Kuffner’s position with the McNeil company, the FDA and most sane physicians will agree with him that – when taken as directed – Tylenol is one of the safest drugs on the market today. It’s place in our society as an analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-pyretic (fever reducer) is unquestioned. I think the move to re-label Tylenol’s dosage should be a wake up call to consumers that they need to be aware of what they put in their body. Even over-the-counter medications can be deadly when used improperly.

Chris is a physiology enthusiast, not a licensed physician. Despite his incredibly astute pre-empting of the Tylenol labeling issue, his advice should be used for educational purposes only, and never supplant a visit to and diagnosis from a medical professional.