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FDA urges doctors to stop prescribing certain combinations of medications containing acetaminophen

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AUSTINTOWN, Ohio - Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in this country.

Found in more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications, the drug is considered safe and effective. However, it can cause some serious health issues if it's over used.

"Some of the dangers of acetaminophen include liver damage, kidney damage, low blood counts, low platelets, which can lead to bleeding issues.  So, it is important to know what medications have acetaminophen in them," said Dr. Angelina Rodriguez with the Austintown Family Health Center.

While it's probably most widely known as the active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen can be found in many other-the-counter medications.  The drug is also used in combination with opioids in prescription pain medications. 

The FDA recently asked doctors to stop prescribing those combination if they contain more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen per dose.

"My fear is the over-the-counter medications because they are so readily available and because patients don't realize how many medications contain acetaminophen.  These are the medications I worry about," said Dr. Rodriguez.

The FDA recommends adults consume no more than 4000 milligrams of acetaminophen in a 24 hour period, which is the equivalent of consuming eight tablets of Extra Strength Tylenol each containing 500 mg of acetaminophen.

"My advice would be to, like I said, read all directions fully follow the directions exactly and as I always say the safest thing to do would be to call your doctor to clarify before taking these," said Dr. Rodriguez.

Each year, acetaminophen sends about 78,000 Americans to the ER and causes more than 15,000 accidental deaths.

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