One of the most popular over-the-counter medications that people turn to for pain relief and to reduce a fever, Tylenol, is considered safe for most people at normal doses. This medication is used commonly by people with headaches, cold and flu symptoms, and many other types of pain. The generic form of the drug is acetaminophen and the brand name product, Tylenol, is made and sold by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Laboratories.
Tylenol lawsuits are more common than many people realize because the harm that acetaminophen can cause when taken incorrectly is not that well known. Liver damage is the number one concern, and most of the lawsuits targeting Tylenol were brought be people who suffered severe liver complications. Many of these suits are currently going through a multidistrict litigation and the plaintiffs are hoping to see a settlement to compensate them for their pain and suffering.
Tylenol is a brand name drug made by McNeil and Johnson & Johnson, but the generic drug, acetaminophen is widespread and made by many companies as an over-the-counter analgesic and antipyretic. It comes in many different Tylenol-branded formulations including children’s medications, those targeted at cold and flu symptoms, night time and day time formulations, and many others.
Acetaminophen is also commonly found in a number of prescription painkillers. It is often combined with opioid painkillers. Some of these combination prescriptions are Tylenol with codeine, Tylox, Ultracet, Vicodin, Percocet, Hydrocet, Phanaphen, and Endocet, just to name a few. Acetaminophen can also show up in many over-the-counter medications without the Tylenol brand. It could be in drugs for arthritis pain, for colds, for flu symptoms, and for headaches.
When taken at normal doses and as directed, Tylenol is safe for most people. Doses that are too high, though, can damage the liver. At overdose levels it can even lead to liver failure and ultimately death. The culprit is a toxic compound that is created when acetaminophen is metabolized. At a regular dose the amount of this compound is not harmful. The liver can process it, and filter it out of the blood. The higher the dose, though, the more is produced and the harder it becomes for the liver to handle it.
Alcohol worsens this damage and the labeling for Tylenol and other acetaminophen products do include this as a warning. Even at normal doses, acetaminophen taken with alcohol or taken by someone who has three or more alcoholic drinks per day can cause liver damage. The label on acetaminophen also includes the warning that no one should take more than 4,000 milligrams per day.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that acetaminophen is the most common cause of liver damage in the U.S. About half of the acetaminophen related liver damage cases were caused by accidental overdoses. More than 400 people die each year from liver damage caused by acetaminophen and more than 50,000 emergency room visits are blamed on it.
Accidental Overdoses and FDA Warnings
The reason there are so many acetaminophen overdoses causing liver damage and failure is that too many people fail to realize that many products contain this drug. Just taking Tylenol for a headache is not a problem, but someone using it this way may also be taking a cold and flu medication, not realizing it contains acetaminophen too. Prescription drugs with acetaminophen can also cause accidental overdoses.
A general lack of awareness of the risks of taking too much acetaminophen, how much is in multiple products, and what the signs of liver damage are has led to too many accidents and a lot of lawsuits. The FDA has tried to counteract this by educating the public and requiring drug makers to include more warnings on their products.
The FDA first required the warning about alcohol to be on all acetaminophen-containing drug labels. A few years later the agency initiated a public education program to spread the word about the risks of combining alcohol and acetaminophen. In 2011 the FDA also addressed the issue of prescriptions containing the drug. The agency limited the amount of acetaminophen that could be in these drugs to 325 milligrams per capsule or tablet and also instituted a black box warning about overdose and liver failure.
Liver Damage Lawsuits
The lack of general knowledge about where acetaminophen can be found and how it can affect the liver has led many people who suffered liver damage to start lawsuits against companies like Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiffs have accused the company of failing to warn them of the full risks of even just a little too much Tylenol. Some have made the case that just a small amount over the recommended dose can start to cause liver damage and Johnson & Johnson did not make that clear on Tylenol labels.
Many of the Tylenol lawsuits have been consolidated into two multidistrict litigations: one in Pennsylvania and the other in New Jersey where Johnson & Johnson is headquartered. The cases have been ongoing for three years and as of 2016 have still not reached a conclusion or an offer of a settlement to the plaintiffs who suffered so much.
The individual plaintiffs have suffered a lot of damage from Tylenol. In some cases the plaintiffs are the loved ones of people who died. One plaintiff filed a suit after his wife died of acute liver failure just two days after taking Tylenol. Another plaintiff claimed she took Tylenol along with a prescription drug that contained acetaminophen, under the direction of her doctor, and then suffered liver failure.
Metal-Contaminated Tylenol Lawsuit
Liver damage is not the only issue Johnson & Johnson has faced over Tylenol. In 2015 the company agreed to a $25 million settlement when some of its child and infant formulations of Tylenol were found to contain metal. McNeil, the subsidiary that makes Tylenol, admitted that it failed to correct the problem once it was found. Although no children were harmed, the company was forced to pay out because of a failure to follow safe manufacturing practices and to fix a known problem.
Filing a Tylenol Lawsuit
If you or someone you love suffered because of taking Tylenol and you feel you weren’t adequately informed about the risks and the consequences of using too much, you could have a case against Johnson & Johnson. Current plaintiffs are accusing the company of misrepresenting the safety of Tylenol, of hiding information about the risks, of making a defective medical product, and of marketing a dangerous drug when there are safer alternatives available.
Filing a lawsuit makes sense if you have suffered and lost money because of the negligence of the drug maker. If you experienced serious liver damage, you may have expensive medical bills to pay. You may have been forced to miss work and lost out on wages. You also likely suffered emotionally and physically, which can be compensated. Some of the plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation are even claiming loss of consortium, a claim regarding the damage the company’s negligence has caused to personal relationships. If you think you have a case and you could benefit from compensation, talk to a lawyer about your options and find out what you can do next.
- http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31672184/ns/health-health_care/t/qa-whats-problem-taking-tylenol/ - .Vwu-tPkrJpi