Acetaminophen under scope of Health Canada

Health Canada is taking further steps to warn consumers of the dangers of acetaminophen overdose.

A 2014 report found that more than 4-billion doses of acetaminophen are sold each year in Canada. Typically found in cold and flu medicines, the medication becomes risky when too much is taken, or it’s taken too long.

In severe cases, overdosing on acetaminophen leads to acute liver failure. In its report, Health Canada found that acetaminophen is the leading cause of serious liver injury in Canada and in other countries such as the U.S., the U.K. and Australia. Of the more than 250 cases of serious liver injury, more than half involved accidental overdose.

Since many non-prescription products contain acetaminophen, taking one or more at a time was a common cause for the overdose. Health Canada plans to strengthen the standards for labelling acetaminophen for non-prescription products by using plain language so people can understand the risks to the liver and adding a drug facts table.

In the fall, the organization will consult with patient safety groups, health professionals and industry leader to determine if the maximum daily dosage should be lowered among other items.


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