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Paracetamol causes most liver failure in UK and US

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 16 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:628
  1. Janice Tanne
  1. New York

    Unintentional overdose with the painkiller paracetamol (acetaminophen) is the most common cause of acute liver failure in United Kingdom, a study has found (Gastroenterology 2006;130:687-94). Acetaminophen-protein adducts are specific biomarkers of drug toxicity and were detected in the serum of all patients with acute liver failure due to acetaminophen and in no patients with failure due to other causes, providing a useful diagnostic test.

    Paracetamol's toxicity is also the single biggest cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Cases have been rising for six years, according to a study published in December (Hepatology 2005;42:1364-72). By 2003, the drug accounted for just over half the cases of acute liver failure, and about half of these cases were the result of unintentional overdose.

    “Acetaminophen is probably the most commonly used medication …

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