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Host Susceptibility and Acetaminophen Liver Injury

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Section on Clinical Pharmacology and Metabolism, Office of the Director of Intramural Research, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Bethesda, Maryland

Ann Intern Med. 1977;87(3):377-378. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-87-3-377
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For most patients and consumers of over-the counter drugs, acetaminophen is safe when used appropriately. It is a good antipyretic, effectively relieves mild and moderate pain, and has minor anti-inflammatory action. The drug has become increasingly popular and is available without prescription in the United States under about 50 brand names and in 200 proprietary combinations with other drugs.

Like many other therapeutic agents, the increasing use and availability of acetaminophen has turned up a darker side. In overdosage the drug causes acute centrilobular hepatic necrosis that may be fatal (1, 2), and acetaminophen poisoning is now one of the


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