Health Canada has decided to tighten its guidelines on acetaminophen after a study showed how often accidental overdoses occur. An average of 2 people per day are hospitalized in Canada because of illness caused by acetaminophen overdose that was unintentional. People may not realize how much acetaminophen they are taking because the drug is so often mixed with other drugs.
Acetaminophen is a tricky drug to regulate because it is generally harmless when taken as a single dose but can easily be debilitating or fatal if taken for more than a few days in a row or in combination with alcohol. Indeed, most of the liver damage historically attributed to chronic alcohol abuse was instead caused by acetaminophen. Health Canada says it will probably lower the dosage of the drug, change guidelines, and make labeling more clear.