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Article posted Aug 30 2011, 6:13 AM Category: Brave New World Source: Psychology Today Print

Tylenol and the War on Drugs: Are you better off dead than high?

by Kurt G. Harris, M.D. in Archevore

The government forces drug makers to put poison into their medicines to keep people from "abusing" them to get high. - ChrisMany years ago after a surgical procedure I was given a prescription for Vicodin, which is the brand name combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid analgesic - related to morphine and heroin - and acetaminophen is the generic name for tylenol. There was not (and still is not) a version of hydrocodone all by itself - you can only get the two in combination.

The toxicity of acetaminophen to your liver is well known. Currently some 38% of cases of acute liver failure are due to acetaminophen ingestion. You can get liver failure from taking 15 extra strength tylenol (containing 500 milligrams of acetaminophen) a day or from as few as 4 if you have liver damage from alcohol. This liver failure is insidious. Once it starts, it can quickly progress to the point where you feel fine but will be dead in a matter of days unless you have a liver transplant. By the time you feel desperately ill, it may be too late. If you have overdosed on tylenol and have abdominal pain, you need to get yourself to an emergency room quickly.

I remember being annoyed that in order to get effective pain relief I was being forced to take a liver toxin that added little to the pain relieving efficacy of the opiate. I speculated to my wife that there was probably more injury and death occurring from the acetaminophen than the "dangerous narcotic" in the Vicodin.

Now it looks like the FDA has recognized the same thing that was casually obvious to a radiologist more than 10 years ago. As recreational drug users and addicts seek Vicodin for it's narcotic benefits, and regular folks have acute pain, they are increasingly suffering inadvertent liver toxicity from acetaminophen, contributing to the 40,000 Emergency room visits per year related to acute liver injury.

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Comments 1 - 7 of 7 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Aug 30 2011, 1:12 PM

98240 tylenol is likely in the combo to decrease the frequency of someone taking more of the opiate all the time (by taking care of a part of the pain), decreasing the chance for addiction. if people take it as prescribed, or are responsible enough to either listen to healthcare professionals/read the paperwork given with their meds, you wouldn't have all those cases. similarly, if you're gonna use recreationally, its your responsibility to learn about what you're taking. also, hydrocodone is available alone in medications, its just gotta be made in the pharmacy.

Posted: Aug 30 2011, 3:57 PM

Well, maybe the government should do it with food too.

Ice cream can be abused, and America has a lot of obesity, so lets mandate ice cream producers put a small amount of a vomiting agent in all their ice cream, so if it's "abused" and people eat too much, it will induce vomiting.

Hell, lets just mix in some acetaminophen while we're at it, but only in "reasonable" amounts, of course.

If people want actual real ice cream, they will still be able to get it, but only if it's made in a pharmacy and they have a prescription.

Sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

Posted: Aug 30 2011, 8:03 PM

98240 The government/FDA doesn't mandate acetaminophen in drugs, and there are plenty of opiates all by themselves in pill form.

Obesity in itself is recognized by the FDA and should be enough a deterrent to make people limit their ice cream intake. They ignore warnings and wind up with health problems. Just as people who ignore warnings pertaining to tylenol wind up with acute liver damage.

Wasn't arguing whether or not FDA should deter abuse- or anything for that matter. Was saying that the ultimate user of vicodin is responsible for knowing what they are eating and the potential harm they can cause themselves. (information that IS mandated by goverment to be provided to them)

Way to skirt over that, make a horrible attempt to tie this somehow to ice cream and obesity, and be sarcastic to the point of looking ignorant.

Your site is interesting, but if you're gonna try to defend something, at least put some effort into it.

Posted: Aug 30 2011, 8:24 PM

"The manufacturer goes to extra effort and expense to add poison for the sole purpose of escaping burdensome government regulation and taxation. And the government dissuades you from getting high with a legal drug by threatening you with death."

If you say "do it or else we're going to make it virtually impossible to sell your drug," that's a defacto mandate. You're overlooking the gun in the room:

Posted: Aug 30 2011, 8:25 PM

70178 the drugs are mixed because the codeine works better in combination

Posted: Aug 31 2011, 7:52 AM

184244 Government doesn't persuade physicians to prescribe opiates in any specific manner. The gun is in some other room methinks. Neat blog tho. Producers of denatured alcohol probably wind up on the plus side after saving on taxes anyway.
Jayne Doe

Posted: Dec 09 2011, 10:11 PM

9781 There's absolutely NO reason why that all that Tylenol (APAP) should even BE in narcotic meds. I am talking about anything over 325mg. The ONLY reason drs. prescribe the higher dosed APAP (500mg or 750) is because they're SO PATHETICALLY AFRAID that somebody's going to LIKE pain meds a little too much and take more than the seriously inadequate "recommended dosage." For instance: A prescription for Hydrocodone (Norco) 7.5/325 or preferably 10/325 is ideal. Whereas 5/500 or 5/750 IS NOT. And the lower amount narcotic (5 or 7.5) with the ridiculously high 500 or 750 APAP is PRECISELY why those people ended up in the E.R. This would not likely have happened had they had the OTHER dosage. Not everybody in this world has the same low tolerance that drs. 'think' (or 'hope') that they do.

I have heard of people eating 5 or 6 (10's) in a single DOSE! And thats not necessarily to get HIGH, maybe that's their tolerance to meet their pain level. But so what if they DID want to take it to get high... is not the freedom to do to one's own body as they will not permissible in control freak AmeriKa anymore?! I absolutely ABHOR this war on people (war on drugs) bullcrap and this nanny state nation with its meddling DEA & BIG BROTHER GOV!
Comments 1 - 7 of 7 Page 1 of 1

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