Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Feel the Pain

Usually, when you get some kind of minor surgery (like getting your wisdom teeth pulled) or are hurt in a not-too-terrible way, you'll get some kind of painkiller from the hospital. Most likely, that'll be either Percocet or Vicodin. But soon that could change, because of a proposed ban on both drugs because of their effects on the liver.

"The two drugs combine a narcotic with acetaminophen, the ingredient found in popular over-the-counter products like Tylenol and Excedrin. High doses of acetaminophen are a leading cause of liver damage, and the panel noted that patients who take Percocet and Vicodin for long periods often need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect...While the medicine is effective in treating headaches and reducing fevers, even recommended doses can cause liver damage in some people. And more than 400 people die and 42,000 are hospitalized every year in the United States from overdoses."

Instead, patients would be left with over-the-counter products like Tylenol. Not exactly the same punch, but also a safer dose of acetaminophen for the liver. And even then, the acetaminophen in over-the-counter products would be reduced. People who take pain medication regularly and consistently could be in trouble.

Obviously, no one wants to put their liver in danger, but I also imagine that no one wants to be left without a painkiller. And will this just spur the pharmaceutical industry into making really expensive substitutes?

And, more importantly, what will House do?

Better get those wisdom teeth out now, kids.