Acetaminophen and the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group: lowering the risks of hepatic failure

Hepatology. 2004 Jul;40(1):6-9. doi: 10.1002/hep.20293.


Acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause for calls to Poison Control Centers (>100,000/year) and accounts for more than 56,000 emergency room visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and an estimated 458 deaths due to acute liver failure each year. Data from the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group registry of more than 700 patients with acute liver failure across the United States implicates acetaminophen poisoning in nearly 50% of all acute liver failure in this country. Available in many single or combination products, acetaminophen produces more than 1 billion US dollars in annual sales for Tylenol products alone. It is heavily marketed for its safety compared to nonsteroidal analgesics. By enabling self-diagnosis and treatment of minor aches and pains, its benefits are said by the Food and Drug Administration to outweigh its risks. It still must be asked: Is this amount of injury and death really acceptable for an over-the-counter pain reliever?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / poisoning*
  • Acute Disease
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / poisoning*
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure / chemically induced*
  • Liver Failure / mortality
  • Liver Failure / prevention & control*
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen