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Tylenol Reveals New Warning Labels

Update Date: Aug 30, 2013 09:39 AM EDT
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Tylenol has gotten a makeover after concerns over drug abuse continue to rise. The popular painkillers will be redesigned to have a warning label right on the cap so that users can see it immediately. This new warning label, which will be distributed starting in October, will hopefully reduce the risks of abusing the pain reliever.

According to the company, the warning label was created after the federal government and lawsuits placed pressure on the company to act on the threat of drug abuse. The company is currently dealing with more than 85 personal injury lawsuits that are blaming liver injuries and fatalities on Tylenol. The first bottle to get the makeover will be the Extra Strength Tylenol sold within the United States. Johnson & Johnson stated that other Tylenol bottles would follow suit with this label within a few months. 

"We're always looking for ways to better communicate information to patients and consumers," commented the vice president of McNeil Consumer Healthcare with the Johnson & Johnson unit in charge of Tylenol, Dr. Edwin Kuffner, reported by the New York Daily News.

The bottles will be printed with a red warning label slapped directly across the cap. It reads, "CONTAINS ACETAMINOPHEN ALWAYS READ THE LABEL." Acetaminophen is one of the ingredients found in pain relievers that can lead to sudden liver failure. Within the U.S. alone, there are around 55,000 to 80,000 people who end up in hospital emergency departments due to overdoses on acetaminophen every year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), acetaminophen overdose kills at least 500 Americans every year.

Now, Tylenol will be one of the first medications to clearly inform that the pills contain acetaminophen. Over 600 over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain acetaminophen. The risk of an acetaminophen overdose is great and now, with this new label, hopefully these numbers can be reduced.

Although acetaminophen is safe to use based on the directions, some safety experts are worried about extra strength Tylenol because it contains more milligrams of the ingredient. Regular strength Tylenol contains 650 milligrams of acetaminophen in two pills while the same amount of the Extra Strength version contains 1,000 milligrams of acetaminophen.

"The argument goes that if you take acetaminophen correctly you will virtually never get into trouble," said Dr. William Lee of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "But it's the very fact that it's easily accessible over-the-counter in bottles of 300 pills or more that puts people in harm's way."

Even though taking the directed amount of acetaminophen is safe, the rising numbers suggest that more needs to be done aside from simply putting a new warning label on the bottle. 

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