WFLA: SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A fight is coming to California over whether to list one of the world’s most common over-the-counter drugs as a carcinogen, echoing recent high-profile battles over things like alcohol and coffee.
The drug is acetaminophen, known outside the U.S. as paracetamol and used to treat pain and fevers. It is the basis for more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications for adults and children, found in well-known brands like Tylenol, Excedrin, Sudafed, Robitussin and Theraflu.
Acetaminophen has been available in the U.S. without a prescription since 1955. Concerns about its potential link to cancer come from its relationship to another drug: phenacetin. That drug, once a common treatment for headaches and other ailments, was banned by the FDA in 1983 because it caused cancer.RELATED STORIES:
State regulators have reviewed 133 studies about acetaminophen, all of which were published in peer-reviewed journals. Some studies reported an increased risk of some types of cancers, while others did not. Overall, the review noted acetaminophen has been difficult to examine because it is hard to isolate it from other variables that could contribute to cancer, such as smoking.
A state law known as Proposition 65 says California must warn people of any chemical known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. The state’s list has grown to about 900 chemicals, including toxic pesticides and flame retardants, and is more extensive than any in the U.S. Some critics say California regulators have been overzealous, requiring warning labels for countless products that confuse instead of inform consumers when the risk of cancer is disputed. read more