Paracetamol is one of the commonest drugs used in Nigeria for pain relief or reduction of fever and as a result, is usually abused by many. However, the founder and Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, Dr. Stella Okoli, has said that adults should not take more than six tablets of paracetamol (acetaminophen) daily.
Speaking during the 30th anniversary of Emzor paracetamol, where a special pack was unveiled in Lagos, Dr. Okoli disclosed that most users have ‘staggered’ overdoses after taking paracetamol in other forms, such as caffeine drinks or panadol, thereby failing to realise that the amount they have taken could be fatal in a few days.
She said 500mg tablets– the equivalent of 4g – should be the maximum daily dose, warning that any one who exceeds this dose will be putting his life in harm’s way.
Mrs Okoli, who pioneered the production of Emzor paracetamol, said people may have complaints, such as vague abdominal pain and nausea. With time, signs of liver injury – low blood sugar, low blood pH, easy bleeding, and hepatic encephalopathy- may develop. Some will be spontaneously resolved, though untreated cases may result in death.
She explained that a damage to the liver, or hepatotoxicity, results not from paracetamol itself, but from one of its metabolites (the chemical processes that occur in a living organism to maintain life) Nacetylp-benzoquinoneimine (NAPQI), which reduces the liver’s antioxidant glutathione and damages cells in the liver, leading to liver failure.
“So, I always tell our people not to take paracetamol with alcohol. This is because risk factors for toxicity include excessive long-term alcohol intake, fasting, lack or loss of appetite for food (anorexia nervosa), and the use of certain drugs, such as a synthetic compound used as a bacteriostatic drug, chiefly to treat tuberculosis (isoniazid). It is important to remember that, when used at therapeutic levels, paracetamol is usually safe and effective.
“Over the years, Emzor Pharmaceutical has gone the extra mile in ensuring that affordable healthcare is readily available to everyone. This has made the company consistent in delivering time valued quality products and services to the delight of our customers.
‘’Ultimately, we see a world where unlimited wellness is available to all and affordable by all. We call this new world WELLOCRACY. It is our belief that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Therefore, we are giving the gift of wellness to our people, our nation and our world.”