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Tylenol Overdose Killed the Cat

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Colorado Springs, COThe recent discovery of acetaminophen toxicity with regard to a Tylenol overdose has taken a lot of consumers by surprise, given the sheer magnitude of the drug's popularity. With billions used each year for everything from muscle pain to headaches, little wonder that pain medication patients seeking quick relief from common, everyday maladies will overdo it with an over-the-counter pain med they view as being completely safe.

However, recent revelations with regard to the potential for Tylenol liver damage associated with taking too much Tylenol over a compressed period—or worse, taking Tylenol in association with other drugs containing acetaminophen—have raised various red flags.

This is especially true in children, given their size and weight. There have been reports of Tylenol liver failure in children, and some deaths have been recorded.

And then, there is the matter of the family cat. Tylenol, it seems, isn't good for her or him either.

The Gazette in Colorado Springs reported on the fate of Mindy the cat, which had been suffering from what appeared to be a cold and was seen to be lethargic. Co-incidentally, the owner's one-year-old child had been exhibiting similar symptoms, but a dose of Children's Tylenol fixed him right up. Would it not fix the family cat up, too?

Not a chance. Mindy was immediately stricken with acetaminophen toxicity, from a single dose of Children's Tylenol, and could not be saved. It should be noted, according to the veterinarian quoted in the Gazette article, that cats lack the capacity of humans for breaking down chemicals in the liver. Thus, a drug that proves helpful in humans can be poison to cats, and can result in Tylenol death.

The fact remains, however, that Tylenol overdose can be problematic to humans as well. New warnings being considered by a working group of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would update product labels to highlight the risks associated with taking too much Tylenol, combining Tylenol with other drugs containing acetaminophen or combining acetaminophen with alcohol consumption. Such warnings would go far to help consumers avoid Tylenol side effects.

In an unrelated matter, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary McNeil Consumer Healthcare had to recently recall 43 million bottles of various Tylenol medications due to manufacturing problems at its facility in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. Recalls tapped J&J for $900 million in 2010.

There is speculation that poor sales coupled with a spate of recalls resulted in a 45 percent cut in bonus dollars earned by J&J CEO William Weldon. His bonus for 2010 was reduced to $1.97 million, down from $3.6 million a year earlier. That's just the bonus, however. For 2011, Weldon, according to the February 26 edition of the Star-Ledger, will take home $1.92 million in annual salary—an increase of three percent from 2010. His three percent increase is less than what most Americans take home in a year. Weldon's total pay packet for 2009, including stock options, bonus payments and various other perks that were not identified, combined to $25.6 million.

The pharmaceutical giant is set to release Weldon's total compensation package for 2010, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, in March. It's enough to make the average American reach for a Tylenol—but mindful to avoid a Tylenol overdose.

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