July 1, 2009

Panel advises ban on Percocet, Vicodin

A U.S. government advisory panel says it recommends a ban on Percocet and Vicodin, which contain acetaminophen, because of their effects on the liver.

The two drugs combine a narcotic with acetaminophen -- the ingredient found in Tylenol and Excedrin -- and high doses of acetaminophen are a leading cause of liver damage, The New York Times reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel said patients who take Percocet and Vicodin over longer periods often need higher and higher doses to achieve pain relief.

The panel's 20-17 vote Tuesday to recommend a ban on the combination drugs of Percocet and Vicodin was one of 11 it took at a meeting called to advise the FDA on acetaminophen. The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels.

Acetaminophen, used to treat headaches, pain and in reducing fevers, can cause liver damage even in recommended doses in some people. More than 400 people die and 42,000 are hospitalized annually in the United States from overdoses, the Times said.

The panel voted 24-13 to recommend the FDA reduce the highest allowed dose of 500 milligrams in over-the-counter pills to 325 milligrams. However, it did not recommend limiting the number of pills per bottle.