In January 2011, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked drug companies to limit the amount of acetaminophen in all prescription medicines to 325 mg per tablet. This would help reduce the risk of taking too much acetaminophen, particularly if the medicine is taken every 4 to 6 hours around the clock.
Abbott, the company that makes the prescription pain medicine Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen), will be decreasing the amount of acetaminophen in all of its Vicodin products to 300 mg per tablet. The amount of hydrocodone will remain the same based on the prescribed strength—5 mg (called Vicodin), 7.5 mg (called Vicodin ES), and 10 mg (called Vicodin HP). It is unclear at this point regarding the many generic versions of Vicodin and whether they are complying with these changes in the acetaminophen strength. So, use caution when adding up the amount of acetaminophen. Generic versions of Vicodin may not be exactly the same as the “new” Vicodin because they may contain different amounts of acetaminophen.
→Here’s what you can do:
Take acetaminophen-containing prescription medicines like Vicodin only as prescribed. If your pain is not better, talk to your doctor—do not take more than directed.
- Check to see if any of the other prescription medicines you take contain acetaminophen. If they do, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
- When you drop off or pick up a prescription, ask your pharmacist how much hydrocodone and acetaminophen are in each tablet.
- Read the labels of any OTC medicines you take to see if they contain acetaminophen. Do not take more than one medicine that contains acetaminophen at a time.
- Avoid alcohol when taking acetaminophen. Some companies label products with a warning limiting alcohol intake to no more than 3 drinks per day while taking the medicine.
- For more information about preventing liver damage from acetaminophen go to the Know Your Dose campaign website at: www.knowyourdose.org.
For more information and safety tips about hydrocodone and acetaminophen, view our consumer guide.