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Paracetamol

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Paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US) is one of the world's most popular painkillers-and yet, it is also far more dangerous than the millions who take it realize

Paracetamol (acetaminophen in the US) is one of the world's most popular painkillers-and yet, it is also far more dangerous than the millions who take it realize. Every year, it kills around 450 people in the US and around120 individuals in the UK.

The US drugs regulatory agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is so concerned by this fact that it is now considering restricting the drug's availability, an action that has already been taken in Ireland. In that country, it is illegal to buy more than 24 tablets, or 500 mg in total, in a single trans-action. Despite this, this popular pain-killer was responsible for nearly a third of the 7933 drug overdoses recorded in Ireland in 2004.

The drug can become dangerous at even relatively low dosages, and can cause serious-and sometimes fatal-liver damage (Lancet, 2007; 369: 1346).


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