Study Raise Awareness of Acetaminophen in Pain Reliever to Prevent Harm

People take billions of doses of over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol every year, but many do not pay attention to the active ingredients they contain, such as acetaminophen, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study. That lack of knowledge about popular pain relievers plus particular ignorance of acetaminophen’s presence in more than 600 over-the-counter and prescription medicines could be a key reason acetaminophen overdose has become the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S.

The study reported only 31 percent of participants knew Tylenol contained acetaminophen. In addition, 75 percent of participants knew Bayer contained aspirin; 47 percent knew Motrin contained ibuprofen; 19 percent knew Aleve contained naproxen sodium; and 19 percent knew Advil contained ibuprofen.

The solution proposed by the researchers is to develop a universal icon for acetaminophen that would appear on all medicine labels.

It may also be difficult to identify the drugs in some medicine. Acetaminophen is called APAP on prescription medications.

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