TORONTO — Health Canada says it may change its guidelines for acetaminophen, based on concerns about the drug’s capacity to cause severe liver injury.
The department says it is considering a new maximum recommended daily dose for acetaminophen.
As well, it may require that all children’s liquid medications that contain acetaminophen be sold with an accurate dosing device to minimize the risk of overdose.
Health Canada says there more than 4,000 hospitalizations a year in this country due to acetaminophen overdoses.
As a pain medication, acetaminophen is sold as Tylenol and its generic equivalents, but many cold medications also include the drug.
The drug is the leading cause of all serious liver injuries — including liver failure — in a number of countries including Canada.
Health Canada says there are more than 250 cases of serious liver injury in Canada each year related to acetaminophen, and more than half of those are due to unintentional overdose.
A recent federal report on acetaminophen found that the numbers of unintentional acetaminophen overdoses in Canada are on the rise.
And one out of every five acetaminophen-related liver injuries reportedly occurred in people who did not exceed the recommended daily maximum dose.
The recommended maximum daily dose is currently four grams per day.
Health Canada says more than 475 products containing acetaminophen are licensed for sale and most are sold without prescription.
The department says it plans to change the labelling for products containing acetaminophen so that the language is clearer and the risks of misuse are easier to understand.
The department says it will post a draft of the new labelling standards later this summer.