Jul 10, 2015

By Kim O'Hare

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Health Canada is considering lowering the recommended daily dose of acetaminophen following an investigation  into the hidden dangers of the popular painkiller.

Acetaminophen  is found in several hundred over the counter medications including Tylenol.

The federal health agency says it is taking additional steps to minimize the risk of liver damage and improve acetaminophen safety, citing the findings of a government review that underscored the possibility of accidental overdose.

Of the more than 4,000 hospitalizations in Canada each year for acetaminophen overdose, Health Canada’s report found that roughly 20 per cent are due to people exceeding the recommended dose unintentionally, and that number is rising.

The investigation revealed that acetaminophen, which is one of Canada’s top-selling non-prescription drugs over the past half century, has been responsible for hundreds of deaths, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of millions of dollars in health-care system costs over the past decade.

Many people think of acetaminophen as a benign headache remedy however, a Statistics Canada database recorded 253 accidental deaths and nearly 300 suicides between 2000 and 2009 where acetaminophen was a major or contributing cause of death.

The recommended daily maximum dose is 4 grams, while 10 grams per day can lead to liver damage.

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