As perhaps one of the most popular over-the-counter medications ever to be used on the U.S. market, acetaminophen is indicated for the treatment of several conditions. However typical applications witness acetaminophen used in the treatment of headaches, muscle aches, arthritis, backaches, toothaches, colds, and fevers. Unfortunately, the introduction of this generic medication has recently been associated with catastrophic complications. Patients receiving acetaminophen treatment may significantly increase their risk of developing a severe, life-threatening liver injury.
If you or a loved one has developed a liver injury or suffered from liver damage after taking acetaminophen, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free confidential case evaluation. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and we can help.
Acetaminophen Liver Damage Lawsuit Overview
Having already established itself on the U.S. market, acetaminophen was released on February 9, 1978. Currently marketed in approximately 200 corresponding name-brands, acetaminophen is a key active ingredient responsible for the reduction of fever and pain relief. Since its release, it has been used in several over-the-counter medications to treat the symptoms of headache, muscle aches, arthritis, backache, toothaches, colds, and fevers.
Acetaminophen is in a class of medications called analgesics (pain relievers) and antipyretics (fever reducers). It works by changing the way the body senses pain and by cooling the body. The pain relief induced by analgesics occurs either by blocking pain signals going to the brain or by interfering with the brain’s interpretation of the signals.
Unfortunately, the introduction of acetaminophen may result in catastrophic complications. The pharmacodynamics of acetaminophen may be responsible for a variety of associated liver injuries with varying degrees of severity. Subsequently, liver failure is a recognized complication resulting from the use of acetaminophen. Patients who take medications containing this ingredient may significantly increase their risk of developing a liver injury or even liver failure. Due to the severity of these conditions, patients may contact a lawyer at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP for a free case evaluation of their potential acetaminophen liver damage lawsuit.
Signs and Symptoms of Acetaminophen Liver Damage
The signs and symptoms of acetaminophen-induced liver injuries can be described as a three phase process. The first phase, usually lasting up to 24 hours, is characterized by chronic nausea and vomiting. However, these symptoms usually go into remission during the second phase. Otherwise known as the latent stage, the second stage actually witnesses an individual feel well for approximately two days.
In the third and final stage, which usually begins about 48 to 72 hours after the initial ingestion of acetaminophen, blood tests begin to show signs of liver abnormalities. Most notably is the presence of extremely high levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), each of which are common with this type of liver injury. Typically AST and ALT are contained within liver cells. However, an acetaminophen liver injury can spill these enzymes into the blood, indicating liver disease.
Acetaminophen Liver Damage
Liver damage from acetaminophen occurs when the glutathione pathway is overwhelmed by too much of acetaminophen’s metabolite, NAPQI. When an abundance of NAPQI accumulates in the liver, liver damage is inevitable. Furthermore, when the amount of NAPQI is too much for the available glutathione to detoxify, liver damage occurs.
Extensive liver damage that spreads throughout the entire organ may ultimately result in liver failure. Liver failure occurs when large portions of the liver become irreparably damaged until the organ is no longer able to perform its duties. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical intervention to treat. As the disease progresses, the symptoms become much more serious, requiring emergency medical treatment. These symptoms may include:
- Bleeding easily
- Swollen abdomen
- Mental disorientation or confusion (known as hepatic encephalopathy)
The prognosis for liver injuries is directly correlated to the extent of the damage sustained by the organ. Outcomes can be predicted fairly accurately when the appropriate blood tests are given. For example, at one extreme, if the patient develops severe acid buildup in the blood, kidney failure, bleeding disorders, or coma, then death is almost certain. Only a liver transplant can possibly save such a patient.
Acetaminophen can cause elevations of liver enzymes in the blood suggesting injury to the liver. In a study of 145 healthy subjects who were randomized to receive placebo or 4 grams of acetaminophen-containing drugs daily for two weeks, subjects in the placebo group experienced no elevations of ALT, a liver enzyme, but 33%-44% of the subjects in the acetaminophen group had ALT elevations greater than three times the upper limits of normal. The highest ALT elevation was greater than 500 which is approximately 10 times the upper limit of normal. The presence of these elevated levels of enzymes are indicative of liver disease.
Do I Have an Acetaminophen Liver Damage Lawsuit?
The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in acetaminophen liver damage lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one has been injured by acetaminophen, you should contact our lawyers immediately by clicking the link below or calling toll free 1-(949) 557-5800. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and we can help.