acetaminophen, Tylenol and Others

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Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

GENERIC NAME: acetaminophen

BRAND NAME: Tylenol and others

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Acetaminophen belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers). The exact mechanism of action of acetaminophen is not known. It may reduce the production of prostaglandins in the brain. Prostaglandins are chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling. Acetaminophen relieves pain by elevating the pain threshold, that is, by requiring a greater amount of pain to develop before a person feels it. It reduces fever through its action on the heat-regulating center of the brain. Specifically, it tells the center to lower the body's temperature when the temperature is elevated. The FDA approved acetaminophen in 1951.

PRESCRIPTION: No.

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes.

PREPARATIONS: Solution/suspension: 160 mg/5 ml; Liquid: 500 mg/ml; Chewable tablets: 80, 160 mg; Tablet (disintegrating): 80, 160 mg; Caplets: 325, 500, 650 mg; Caplet (extended release): 650 mg; Gelcaps: 500 mg; Geltabs: 500 mg

STORAGE: Tablets and solutions should be stored at room temperature 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). Suppositories should be refrigerated below 27 C (80 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Acetaminophen is used for the relief of fever as well as aches and pains associated with many conditions. Acetaminophen relieves pain in mild arthritis but has no effect on the underlying inflammation, redness, and swelling of the joint. If the pain is not due to inflammation, acetaminophen is as effective as aspirin. It is as effective as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen (Motrin) in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee. Unless directed by a physician, acetaminophen should not be used for longer than 10 days.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/22/2013



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