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GENERIC NAME: acetaminophen
BRAND NAME: Tylenol and many other
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Acetaminophen belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers). The exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen is not known. Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold, that is, by requiring a greater amount of pain to develop before it is felt by a person. It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating center of the brain. Specifically, it tells the center to lower the body's temperature when the temperature is elevated. Acetaminophen was approved by the FDA in 1951.

Acetaminophen Drug


PREPARATIONS: Liquid suspension, chewable tablets, coated caplets, gelcaps, geltabs, and suppositories. Common dosages are 325, 500 and 650 mg.

STORAGE: Store tablets and solutions at room temperature 15-30C (59-86F). Suppositories should be refrigerated below 27C (80F ).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Acetaminophen is used for the relief of fever as well as aches and pains associated with many conditions. Acetaminophen relieves pain in mild arthritis but has no effect on the underlying inflammation, redness and swelling of the joint. If the pain is not due to inflammation, acetaminophen is as effective as aspirin. It is as effective as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen (Motrin) in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee.

DOSING: The oral dose for adults is 325 to 650 mg every 4-6 hours. The maximum daily dose is 4 grams. The oral dose for a child is based on the child's age, and the range is 40-650 mg every 4 hours.

When administered as a suppository, the adult dose is 650 mg every 4-6 hours. For children, the dose is 80-325 mg every 4-6 hours depending on age.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Acetaminophen is metabolized (eliminated by conversion to other chemicals) by the liver. Therefore drugs that increase the action of liver enzymes that metabolize acetaminophen (e.g. carbamazepine, isoniazid, rifampin) may decrease the action of acetaminophen. The potential for acetaminophen to harm the liver is increased when it is combined with alcohol or drugs that also harm the liver.

PREGNANCY: Acetaminophen is used in all stages of pregnancy.

NURSING MOTHERS: Acetaminophen is excreted in breast milk in small quantities. However, acetaminophen use by the nursing mother appears to be safe.

SIDE EFFECTS: When used appropriately, side effects are rare. The most serious side effect is liver damage due to large doses, chronic use or concomitant use with alcohol or other drugs that also damage the liver.

Other useful drug information: Azithromycin | Niacin | Zantac | Lanoxin | Colchicine | Advair | Bontril

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