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Johnson and Johnson has reduced the maximum daily dose of its Extra Strength Tylenol pain reliever to lower risk of accidental overdose from acetaminophen, its active ingredient and the top cause of liver failure. Starting sometime this fall, labels on Extra Strength Tylenol packages will now list the maximum daily dose as six pills, or a total of 3,000 milligrams, down from eight pills a day, or 4,000 milligrams.
Beginning next year, Johnson and Johnson will also reduce the maximum daily dose for its Regular Strength Tylenol and other adult pain relievers containing acetaminophen, the most widely used pain killer in the country.
Besides Tylenol, acetaminophen is the active ingredient in the prescription painkillers Percocet and Vicodin and in some nonprescription pain relievers, including NyQuil and some Sudafed products. It’s found in thousands of medicines taken for headaches, fever, sore throats and chronic pain. But people taking multiple medicines at once don’t always realize how much acetaminophen they are ingesting, partly because prescription drug labels often list it under the abbreviation “APAP.”
Excessive use of acetaminophen can cause liver damage. In the U.S., it’s blamed for about 200 fatal overdoses and sends 56,000 people to the emergency room each year.