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Alcohol-acetaminophen issue explored

JAMA. 1980;244(7):636-642. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310070006004.
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A recent Miami symposium, held to discuss the possible role of acetaminophen in potentiating liver damage in alcoholics, brought out conflicting information and opinions on this new aspect of the alleged health hazards of the popular over-the-counter drug.

At issue was the safety margin of acetaminophen in the light of recent information suggesting that the drug, taken for therapeutic—not suicidal—purposes, can cause centrilobular hepatic necrosis in the alcoholic.

The reports that acetaminophen may cause severe adverse reactions brought out strong defenses by McNeil Consumer Products Company, manufacturer of acetaminophen. Sales of the drug now constitute 25% of sales of all over-the-counter analgesics in the United States.

The defenses included the following:

  • A presymposium meeting between several representatives of McNeil (including Thomas Gates, MD, medical director) and Emanuel M. Papper, MD, vice-president for medical affairs at the University of

  • Miami (one of the cosponsors of the symposium), and Burton J.


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