Study: Many Medi-Cal Patients Receive High Acetaminophen Doses
Pharmacists and prescribers might be dispensing potentially dangerous amounts of acetaminophen to thousands of Medi-Cal beneficiaries, according to a recent study published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Acetaminophen is sold under the brand name Tylenol and is commonly included in over-the-counter cold treatments, as well as prescription medications.
For the study, UC-Davis researchers reviewed pharmacy claims for 3.27 million Medi-Cal patients between October 2004 and September 2005.
They found that:
- 192,716 beneficiaries -- or 5.9% of the study group -- potentially were exposed to four grams or more of acetaminophenÂ for at least one day;
- 769 beneficiaries potentially were exposed to at least 16 grams of the analgesic in one day; and
- 2,664 beneficiaries potentially were exposed to at least four grams of acetaminophen for at least 100 days.
Risks of Exposure
Previous studies have suggested that repeatedly taking four or more grams of acetaminophen per day could be associated with liver or kidney damage.
An FDA advisory committee recently recommended more outreach to health care providers and patients about the risks of high doses of acetaminophen (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.