Whether you call it acetaminophen (in the United States and Japan) or paracetamol (in Europe and most of the rest of the world), it’s one of the most widely used pain relievers. It was first prepared by H. N. Morse in 1878. Although many studies on its use as an analgesic were performed, it wasn’t until 1950 that it was marketed under the name Triagesic. Today, its most common trade names are Tylenol and Panadol, but a large percentage of its sales are as a generic drug.
Although many billions of doses of acetaminophen/paracetamol are consumed each year, scientists have yet to discover its mode of action. Its mechanism was believed to have been established in the 1970s and again in the 2000s, but neither of these theories survived scrutiny. It’s especially important to understand how acetaminophen works because of its well-known toxicity to the liver.
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