First Four Loko, now the very pills we were using to numb the pain? This is an outrage of the highest order.
The FDA's newest beef is with acetaminophen, or paracetamol, that delightful ingredient most famously found in Vicodin. Apparently the feds don't like it when we slowly kill ourselves; acetaminophen is the No. 1 cause of liver failure in the world. (Though Loko was well on its way to winning that title.)
Regular-strength Tylenol and its generic knockoffs should not be affected, as they don't contain more than the new 325 mg-per-capsule cap. But Tylenol PM, Vicodin, Percoset and everything else capable of making you feel awesome despite the catheter shoved up your *bleep* will see their good-shit dosage cut nearly in half, from 500 mg – 750 mg down to 325 mg.
Deputy director for new drugs, Dr. Sandra Kweder, tells the Associated Press this morning: “The risk of liver injury primarily occurs when patients take multiple products containing acetaminophen at one time and exceed the current maximum dose of 4,000 milligrams within twenty-four hour period.”
Yeah, yeah. Now we'll just have to buy twice as many Tylenol or convince our doctors to hand over twice as many Vicodin to get the same effect. As with most bans, this'll probably just put the good, strong vintage stuff on the black market and make life slightly less convenient for the cross-country runners and prescription-writers of the world.
Here's part of the the official mandate:
Because of continued reports of liver injury, FDA proposes that boxed warnings, the agency's strongest warning for prescription drugs, be added to all acetaminophen prescription products. Most of the cases of severe liver injury occurred in patients who took more than the prescribed dose of an acetaminophen-containing product in a 24-hour period, took more than one acetaminophen-containing product at the same time, or drank alcohol while taking acetaminophen products.
If the FDA actually thinks we're going to get rid of your painkiller stock, now that they've rendered it priceless, they crazy. Don't you dare flush that pharmaceutical gold — before you know it, a 12-pack will be going for $80 on Craigslist.
Aside from flushing the meds down the toilet, which for some reason is only appropriate for the brands on this list, the FDA offers the following suggestions for in the Federal Drug Disposal Guidelines
- Mixing them with something that will hide the medicine or make it unappealing, such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds.
- Placing the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag.
- Throwing the container in your household trash.
OK, this is getting too amusing. How about some sobering statistics to make us glad acetaminophen has been exiled from society, and that we'll never have to worry about ending up with Heidi Montag's liver:
Acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. and sends 56,000 people to the emergency room annually. About 200 of them die and the FDA estimates 120 of those deaths are linked to prescription drugs with acetaminophen.
You tell us: Will the 325 mg cap actually change your habits? Or is this just another excuse for a Nancy Botwin-style day trip to Mexico?