Most of us have been scrambling this week to see if the bottle of acetaminophen stored in our bathroom cabinet is safe to use or whether we should return it or simply toss it. Even more important is the question of the safety of acetaminophen for women who are pregnant since the reported possible effects can be even greater to your unborn baby.
What should you do about taking acetaminophen if you are pregnant? Are there store brands that are considered to be safe? Should you avoid it altogether? What are the possible side effects from this current contaminated batch of acetaminophen?
Here are answers to your questions based on a FDA news release:
How many bottles have been recalled? 11 miliion bottles of 500 mg acetaminophen have been recalled. The specific list of recalled acetaminophen caplets can be found here from this FDA report. The expiration dates of the affected pills are from September 2016-August 2017.
Which brands does the recall affect? The brands include those sold by Walmart, CVS and in grocery stores. For a complete list of stores that carry this item, see this list from the FDA.
Why has the acetaminophen been recalled? The reason for the recall is due to a small amount of metal found in a small number of caplets. The manufacturer, Perrigo (based in Michigan) is still investigating how the metal got in the medication.
Has anyone gotten sick from taking these pills? No one has reported any side effects or illness yet from the contaminated tablets. However, an FDA spokesperson says that potential side effects include stomach pain and/or cuts to the mouth or throat.
What should I do it I have a bottle of the recalled acetaminophen? The FDA recommends that you discontinue taking the medication and call Perrigo at (877) 546-0454 for further instructions.
If I am experiencing side effects, what should I do? The FDA recommends that you see your doctor as soon as possible. You should also call the FDA’s Medwatch program at (800) FDA-1088 and Perrigo’s consumer affiars at (877) 546-0454.
What should I do if I am pregnant and need a pain reliever? One thing that pregnant women assume is that OTC (over-the-counter) medications are safe for them during pregnancy. Check the labels to see if the item is safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If there is no label, contact your primary provider anyway.
Be sure that you talk to your provider before you take ANY medication, including herbs, pain relievers and OTC medications for appropriate dosages and safety during pregnancy. Also if your provider advises you can safely take acetaminophen, then check the recalled brands before you take any.