What is acetaminophen and what are the risks for toxicity/poisoning?

Updated: Jan 17, 2020
  • Author: Susan E Farrell, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Miller, MD  more...
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Answer

Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used oral analgesics and antipyretics. [1] It has an excellent safety profile when administered in proper therapeutic doses, but hepatotoxicity can occur after overdose or when misused in at-risk populations. In the United States, acetaminophen toxicity has replaced viral hepatitis as the most common cause of acute liver failure. [2]

Acetaminophen metabolism occurs primarily in the liver and is illustrated in the image below.

Acetaminophen metabolism. Acetaminophen metabolism.

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