June 27, 2016 — The first federal “bellwether” trial over the risk of liver failure from Tylenol has been scheduled for September 19 in Pennsylvania.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 on behalf of Denice Hayes, a 51 year-old woman who died of acute liver failure. After taking normal doses of Tylenol and Tylenol Extra Strength, she allegedly developed catastrophic liver damage and died on August 31, 2010.
The case was originally filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. In 2012, it was transferred into a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2436) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Over 200 lawsuits have been centralized in the MDL as of this month. McNeil Consumer HealthCare and Johnson & Johnson are accused of failing to warn about the risk of liver damage to protect profits.
In the first state-court trial in October 2015, the drug-makers successfully avoided paying compensation to a 55 year-old woman who was hospitalized for a week after accidentally overdosing on Tylenol.
Tylenol is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States, resulting in around 500 deaths per year. It is heavily marketed for its safety compared to other painkillers, but it actually has a very narrow margin of safety.
Tylenol breaks down into a powerful toxin that the body can only metabolize in a limited amount. Even small overdoses can cause liver damage. In 2011, the maximum recommended daily dose was lowered from 4,000-mg to 3,000-mg.