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New Tylenol Warnings Aim to Prevent Overdoses

A new Tylenol warning will be placed on pill bottles, cautioning consumers in bright red letters that the product "CONTAINS ACETAMINOPHEN. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL."

Tylenol's parent company, Johnson & Johnson, hopes the new warning on bottle caps will raise awareness and help reduce the number of accidental acetaminophen overdoses that occur every year, reports CNN.

The new warnings are set to show up on bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol in October. Warnings are planned for other varieties of Tylenol as well.

Acetaminophen Overdoses Are Common

"Acetaminophen overdose is one of the most common poisonings worldwide," according to the National Institutes of Health.

Overdoses from acetaminophen send 55,000 to 80,000 people to U.S. emergency rooms each year, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. At least 500 deaths are attributed to acetaminophen overdoses every year.

Taking too much acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage and sudden liver failure. The risk of liver failure increases when you take the medication on an empty stomach, with alcohol or in greater amounts than directed.

Overdose Lawsuits

In all likelihood, the new warning label isn't being introduced out of the kindness of Johnson & Johnson's heart, but in an attempt to shield the company from liability.

McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the Johnson & Johnson unit that makes Tylenol, is in the midst of more than 85 personal injury lawsuits in federal court that blame Tylenol for liver injuries and deaths, according to The AP.

Consumers can file product liability lawsuits for marketing defects such as improper labeling of products, insufficient instructions, or the failure to warn consumers of a product's hidden dangers.

Here, the concern is that consumers didn't have fair warning of the liver damage risks associated with taking more than the recommended amount.

Always Read the Label

Most experts agree that acetaminophen is safe when used as directed, which generally means 4,000 milligrams a day, or a maximum of eight pills of Extra Strength Tylenol. That's the FDA's limit for adults, so follow it.

An FDA advisory panel is drafting long-awaited safety proposals that may heavily restrict the use of Tylenol and other acetaminophen products.

So before you pop another Extra Strength Tylenol for your aches and pains, keep the warning in mind and use the product only as directed.

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