On Wednesday August 15th the Toronto Star released a report that Preventable Deaths Stalk Hospitals. It was revealed that thousands of patients die from medical errors. This to me is no great revelation as these numbers have been reported consistently over the past ten years. Dr. Lucien Leape in a study at Harvard Medical suggests that deaths from prescription deaths were as high as 200,000 per year. That would be like three jumbo jets crashing every two days.

Another study Death by Medicine by Dr Gary Null et al suggest that medical errors takes more than 783,936 out of the loop. That is just in the US alone. You have to think something is just not right when there are virtually no headlines for these statistics yet there will be a great hullabaloo about the safety of vitamins or minerals. Does any of this make sense to you?? Now I am not suggesting that medications do not have their place …. As a matter of fact I am sure that they save thousands of lives every single year. That does not change the fact that with every single prescription and or over the counter medicine comes a certain amount of risk. You see medicines are essentially poisons… that is how they work! Probably everyone who reads this will have taken a nasid or some form in the past year. That includes things like Tylenol, Advil, _______ fill in the blank. Some studies suggest that more than 6000 people are victims of this type of killer. Where are the headlines? When you are big pharma the tail can wag the dog.

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol Secret

The following was taken from Forbes Magazine, January 12, 1998.

In 1989 a 5-year-old girl, Lacy Keele, was given a common remedy for the common flu: Tylenol. She was given four extra strength tablets in one day, twice what a child should receive. The overdose destroyed Lacy’s liver and she was dead within a week. A jury found Tylenol caused her death but left Johnson & Johnson’s, the manufacturer, off because her parents were adequately informed of the risks. This is a product whose advertising slogan is “Nothing’s Safer.”

Sophie Regosin-Hodges was 14 months old when an overdose of Tylenol infant drops almost killed her. Sophie’s mother gave her Tylenol infant drops – but, acting under instructions from a pediatrician, used the dosage for a different product, Tylenol children’s suspension liquid. The two products look almost the same but the infant drops are three times as potent as the children’s formula. Sophie is now 4 years old, she survived by a liver tissue transplant operation, but she will be on immuno-suppressant drugs all her life.

Mary Rose Palmison was a moderate drinker and regularly took Tylenol for back pain. In 1993 she checked into a hospital suffering from nausea. A month later she was dead. Tylenol poisoning caused her liver to fail. J&J settled for an undisclosed sum.

Antonio Benedi drank wine with dinner one Saturday night, over the next four days he took ten extra strength Tylenol tablets. Benedi went into a coma and was saved only by a liver transplant. He sued and won $8 million from J&J.

There have been hundreds and hundreds of fatalities and serious liver injuries attributed to acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. The American Association of Poison Control Centers counts about 100 deaths a year from acetaminophen alone or in combination. This understates the total, since hospitals are not required to report cases.

At least 100 suits have been filed against J&J over acetaminophen poisonings, most in the last three years. J&J spends much of their gross profit to strengthen the brand. Advertising Age estimates the company’s domestic ad budget for Tylenol at $250 million. Part of this advertising dollar is spent trying to assure the American public that there is “Nothing Safer.”

How Acetaminophen Works

An hour after you swallow a tablet containing acetaminophen, most of the drug is on its way through your bloodstream to your liver, the body’s primary filtering agent. As acetaminophen breaks down in the liver, about 5% becomes a highly toxic compound, N-acetyl-para-benzo-quinoneimine. Under ordinary circumstances the poison is neutralized by a chemical within the liver, glutathione. In an acetaminophen overdose, the poison swamps the glutathione, damaging the liver. This is more likely to happen to those who drink frequently or have been fasting.

The initial symptoms of acetaminophen poisoning are similar to those of the flu: loss of appetite and nausea. In some cases, these appear within the first day and then subside, giving the false impression that the danger has passed.

It may not be until 48 hours later that the consequences of liver failure become apparent with the onset of jaundice, confusion, and even coma. There is an effective antidote, but it must be given fast – some say within 12 hours, some say within 24. By the time the symptoms arrive, it’s usually too late to use the antidote.

How easy is it to take too much?

Easier Than You Think

The maximum daily dose of acetaminophen recommended on the Tylenol extra strength bottle is 4 grams a day. Five times that dose would “unequivocally produce a life-threatening injury in anybody.”

Taken from Forbes Magazine

On the National news last night (August 15th) it was reported that there is possibility of injury or death associated with cough and cold remedies if given to toddlers. Do you really need a study to figure out that an 18 month old could have adverse reaction to drugs put into the body?

I guess the definition of insanity is traveling down the same road year after year and expecting to get to a different destination.

I think it is time collectively as a society to embrace the preventative measures that can be taken to avoid heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and the list goes on.

In future blogs I would like to cover the things that I believe will help be proactive for your health and ultimate wellness.

If there are any things that you want discussed drop me a line and we will run it up the flag pole and see how it flies.

Keep your stick on the ice for now…

Dr Brian D Huggins

PS….name that Steppenwolf song…