Paracetamol considered one of the ‘most dangerous medicines’ claims scientist

Pharmacist explains how paracetamol and ibuprofen work

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The reason for Professor Brems’ statement was due to cases of liver failure linked with consumption of the painkiller.

In other countries Acetaminophen is better known as Tylenol.

While these cases are unnerving, it is important to note three key factors:
• Many of the patients in question took the drug in addition to alcohol
• It does not apply to all forms of paracetamol, just Tylenol
• The poisoning occurred after a prolonged period of over consumption of the drug.

Nevertheless, the cases are concerning for those who take the specific form of painkiller.

Patients have reported acute liver poisoning; in the worst-case scenario some require a liver transplant.

Professor Brems said he transplants “three to four patients per year, and two to three die before we can transplant them”.

The condition requiring the transplant is known as toxic hepatitis, when the liver becomes inflamed due to an adverse reaction to drugs, chemicals, or alcohol.

Speaking about the cases, British GP Dr Sarah Jarvis said: “Paracetamol is one of the most commonly taken medicines in the UK.

“For most people who stick to the recommended intake, paracetamol doesn’t pose a problem. But if you take more than the recommended dose – particularly over a long period – you could be putting yourself at risk.”

As with all medications, it is essential paracetamol is only taken in the dose recommended either by GP or the instructions on the packaging.

Every person, said Dr Jarvis, has a “daily allowance of paracetamol”, the maximum level the body should consume and adds it is crucial to remember paracetamol in cold and flu remedies counts towards that allowance.

Liver disease has been in the news in the UK recently not for any cases of liver failure, but due to the outbreak of a mysterious form of acute hepatitis in children under the age of five.

The outbreak began in Scotland earlier this year and has since spread around the world to over 12 countries.

Parents have been told to look out for the symptoms of hepatitis in their children.

The most common symptoms experienced by those hospitalised have been vomiting and jaundice.

While the adenovirus has been cited as one potential cause of the outbreak, another has been altogether more surprising.

Scientists are looking into whether pet dogs could be behind the cases.

In a questionnaire of 92 cases, over two thirds said they had a dog.

Meanwhile, links with paracetamol are also being investigated.

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