Marketed to alleviate pain, sleeplessness, and now even anxiety, the popular over-the counter-painkiller Tylenol has been touted by its manufacturer, Johnson and Johnson, as the “safest drug on the market”, with consumers having trusted the brand for decades. However, recent studies have revealed the real dangers of Tylenol, citing increased risks for acute liver damage and failure from acetaminophen, the active ingredient used in the painkiller.

For years, warning labels on Tylenol have listed the risks of acute liver failure from taking the drug with alcohol or in conjunction with other products containing acetaminophen. However, Johnson and Johnson and its subsidiary McNeil Consumer Healthcare have used strategic marketing to hide the fact that acetaminophen is actually dangerous to the liver, with or without alcohol.

“[Acetaminophen is the] leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, accounting for 450 deaths per year in the United States, 20,000 hospitalizations – 56,000 emergency room visits,” said Troy Rafferty in an interview with Mike Papantonio on Ring of Fire.

When acetaminophen is processed through the liver, the acetaminophen becomes very toxic. When Tylenol is taken with other drugs that contain acetaminophen, it is harder for the body to excrete the toxic waste and this can lead to acute liver failure. Also, if the recommended dosage is exceeded, even in small amounts, the acetaminophen can be harmful to the liver.

Johnson and Johnson has known the dangers and risks of acetaminophen for years, yet still continues to market it as a safe drug. Lawsuits are currently being filed with allegations that Tylenol’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary McNeil failed to adequately warn of the risks of liver damage and failure from the acetaminophen in Tylenol.

Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.