Tylenol Liver Damage Lawsuit

Tylenol ®, the brand name for acetaminophen, is the leading pain killer in American households today with over 8 billion pills in circulation annually. Many studies have shown however that Tylenol® can damage the liver even with its recommended dosage. Anyone who has used Tylenol® for several days on a stretch might be at risk of liver damage or even liver failure. In some cases the damage sustained can also result in death.

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Several controlled experiments have conclusively shown that the use of this pain killer for four or more days can place the patient at risk of liver damage and liver injury. According to an experiment carried out by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the product leads to enhanced levels of aminotransferase, an enzyme indicating liver damage. The science, briefly, behind the process is that, while most of the acetaminophen is broken down once it enters the liver, a part of it is converted into N-acetyl-p-benzoquinoneimine, a very harmful toxin, which in large quantities leads to breakdown of the liver.

For a common regular use pain killer, Tylenol® has a long but dubious history. The development of the drug dates back to the 1940s, when McNeil Consumer Products first developed the product. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug in 1951 and it was widely available by 1955. Johnson & Johnson acquired McNeil Consumer Products in 1959. By 1970s, Tyleon was seen as a less irritable and safer alternative to aspirin. However, as early as 1977, the FDA had recommended an advisory on the drug’s packaging warning against potential liver damage but this was not heeded till 2006. In 1982, the painkiller was recalled after the extra-strength variety of the drug, which was contaminated with cyanide, turned out deadly for patients using it. In 2009 and 2010 Tylenol® was again recalled twice for contamination. The FDA put out a report saying that it contained a certain kind of bacterium called Burkholderia Cepacia which could cause infection in patients with weak or susceptible immune systems. There have also been allegations of secret recalls where Johnson & Johnson have allegedly hired people to pick up the drug from store shelves.

More alarmingly, however, the liver damage that this drug causes can be acute and can lead to an irreversible condition. Since 2011 McNeil Consumer Products, the manufacturer of the drug, has reduced the recommended maximum dosage from eight extra strength pills to six extra strength pills a day. Each extra strength pill contains 500 mg of acetaminophen and therefore the maximum dosage now has been capped at 3000 mg. All this points to the adverse effect of Tylenol® on a patient’s liver. Finally the latest setback in this ever expanding saga of recalls came in February 2012, when according to the New York Times as many as 574,000 bottles of the grape flavored Tylenol Infant liquid were recalled.

Tylenol liver damage lawsuits have been around for quite a while now. As early as 1994, a Virginia federal court jury had seen it fit to award US $ 8.8 million in damages to a liver patient who alleged that the product was responsible for his liver damage which landed him in coma. This landmark case brought to light the possible harmful effects of Tylenol® on liver, leading to substantial damage. Given the steady evolution in regulation of Tylenol® by the FDA, any plaintiff (i.e. who files the claim) would have to establish liver damage and the actual use of the drug. The claim has to be palpable and distinct. To this end it is very important to consult a lawyer adequately experienced in Tylenol liver damage lawsuits.

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