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If Health Canada changes the maximum dosage of acetaminophen, who will suffer?

Originally reported by our sister brand Business Review Canada (with the help of CBC News), Health Canada is reportedly trying to get the maximum recomm...

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|Jul 17|magazine12 min read

Originally reported by our sister brand Business Review Canada (with the help of CBC News), Health Canada is reportedly trying to get the maximum recommended daily dose of acetaminophen lowered. While the company has good reason for wanting to ensure people are taking the right amount of the pain medication to prevent accidental overdosing, it’s interesting to consider who could possibly suffer if the order actually happens.

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Interestingly enough, acetaminophen is an ingredient that can be found in more 470 products. These products are quite popular and include both non-prescription and prescription products. However, according to Health Canada, there are more than 4,000 hospitalizations a year throughout the country due to acetaminophen overdoses.

“We were seeing an increase in one area,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, senior medical adviser with Health Canada’s health products and food branch in Ottawa. “It wasn’t a huge increase, but it was remarkable. We were seeing an increase in unintended overdoses. That was part of the impetus to move forward with the recommendations.”

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The most important rule of thumb when taking products with acetaminophen is to use the drug as directed. But do all consumers follow this rule? Undeniably, the answer is “no,” as acetaminophen is the leading cause of all serious liver injuries, including liver failure.

 Regarding the issue, Health Canada is staying proactive. For example, the company will be holding a technical discussion with consumers and industry leaders to encourage the decrease of the maximum recommended daily dosage, as well as require all children’s products to be supplied with a dosing device (i.e. a measuring cup), to avoid dosing errors from taking place.

Acetaminophen is widely used, but people metabolize the drug differently. What does this mean exactly? Even if a person is taking a dosage lower than the recommended daily maxim, he or she could still be doing harm to their body. Everyone is different and body types will not react the same to the drug.

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While the jury is still out on this ruling, we can speculate who will suffer if it does happen to go through. For example, will the manufacturers behind acetaminophen suffer if people are required to take less of the drug (i.e. there won’t be a necessity to produce as many drugs).

 It’s possible that a small hit could take place, but it isn’t likely. As mentioned above, acetaminophen can be found in more than 470 products. Therefore, there’s an obvious need for this ingredient. Even if the daily dosage is lowered, it’s still not banned—people will still want the medicine.

Will those who actively consume acetaminophen actually read the label and follow it? And if they do, but have a tolerance for the drug, will the lower dosage of the medicine still be helpful?

Of course, these questions can only be answered over time and if the ruling actually takes place. However, it’s still important to note that Health Canada is trying to help the public and make sure that only the appropriate amounts of pain medications are being consumed.

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[SOURCE: CBC News]

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