505: Use Only as Directed

505: Use Only as Directed

Sep 20, 2013
One of the country's most popular over-the-counter painkillers — acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol — also kills the most people, according to data from the federal government. Over 150 Americans die each year on average after accidentally taking too much. And it requires a lot less to endanger you than you may know. We reported this alongside ProPublica. Their stories here and here.

 Web Extra: McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Tylenol, chose not to provide a spokesperson for a taped interview for our story. But they did send written answers to our questions and a statement by their Vice President for Medical Affairs, Ed Kuffner. Recognizing that we're a radio show, Kuffner also made a recording of his statement. We excerpt it in our story. Here it is in its entirety.

  • Host Ira Glass tells the story of Sarah Erush, a pharmacist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She was contacted by the Food and Drug Administration and encouraged to examine cases of acetaminophen overdose at her hospital. Erush was surprised by how little over the recommended dose of the drug resulted in liver damage and, for three patients, death. (10 minutes)Health Care/Medicine

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