The End of NyQuil as We Know It?
That’s the title of this Wall Street Journal Blog post – and it sure puts some perspective on all the howling about the dangers of “unregulated supplements.”
Now, a panel of outside experts convened by the agency is meeting to discuss ways to reduce the risk of overdose associated with acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The FDA’s briefing memo says the numbers aren’t entirely clear, but cites one study that suggested acetaminophen overdoses were associated with 56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations, and 458 deaths per year in the U.S. during the 1990s.
Part of the issue is that “there is little difference between the maximum recommended daily dose and a potentially harmful dose,” the FDA says. The agency lays out a few possibilities for dealing with this, including reducing the maximum daily dose and the single adult dose.
One other possibility mentioned in the memo: Getting rid of products that combine acetaminophen with other drugs, on the grounds that consumers may not know acetaminophen is in their medicine, so may take multiple products that contain the drug. Acetaminophen is in lots of cold products — including NyQuil, one of the all-time OTC classics.
56,000 emergency room visits, 26,000 hospitalizations and 458 deaths per year? I don’t know of any supplement that even approaches the level of risk that “tightly regulated” drugs like acetaminophen does. If we’re going to save people from themselves, then perhaps that’s the place we should start.