Acetaminophen, or as most know it, Tylenol, is a common off-the-shelf pain and fever reducer. Drugs containing acetaminophen are so common that nearly one-fourth of Americans (or 52 million) use it weekly. Most of us deem this as a safe drug to use every day—and for the most part, it is. However, there are certain people that should take caution before taking acetaminophen.
Using it with other conditions or for long periods of time can have adverse side effects. Also, studies are finding serious, long-term risks when used during pregnancy or in infants. For most, reading the warning labels for pain relievers has been overlooked. However, if taking such medicines while pregnant or treating lasting symptoms, the warning label should be reviewed. Studies are showing that there may be links to ADHD or Autism and acetaminophen use, and in these cases, a lawsuit may be warranted.
Acetaminophen is a common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs). Most people take acetaminophen for minor conditions like soreness and pain, as well as to reduce fevers.
Those that take acetaminophen frequently use it for arthritis, bone and toothaches, and muscle cramps, including premenstrual and menstrual cramps. The common use of acetaminophen for women can carry into pregnancy. However, as the warning label states, “if pregnant or breast-feeding, ask a health professional before use.”
Use of Acetaminophen During Pregnancy
When pregnant, acetaminophen is thought to be the safest over-the-counter painkiller and fever reducer to use. Between 40%-65% of expectant mothers take acetaminophen at some point, typically for fever and headaches. While for most, acetaminophen is completely safe to take in the proper dose during pregnancy, but for some, there can be adverse results, which is why it is always best to consult a medical professional before taking any dose while pregnant.
Acetaminophen is generally safe to take during pregnancy because there has not been a link found between acetaminophen and miscarriage or birth defects. Of course, it’s crucial to use the proper dosage. Acetaminophen overdoses during pregnancy can harm the liver, kidneys, and cause anemia in the unborn child. Additionally, as studies are showing, it may result in behavior issues, which were not commonly researched until 2015.
Use of Acetaminophen in Infants and Toddlers
According to statistics, 11% of children across the world take acetaminophen each week. Drugs containing Acetaminophen are well-liked, safe painkillers and fever reducers, but if used improperly, it can be life-threatening to children.
The best precaution when giving children acetaminophen is to read the label. Dosing can be complicated, so examine labels and seek guidance to get the right dose. Additionally, parents should control how much acetaminophen their children consume daily and per dose.
Acetaminophen should not be administered to infants younger than 12 weeks unless their doctor has specifically discussed the infant dose with the parent.
Correlation Between Acetaminophen and Autism or ADHD
According to some animal studies, consuming acetaminophen during pregnancy, especially in high doses or toward the end of the pregnancy, may increase the risk of developing behavioral issues including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. After reviewing several studies, the FDA (in 2015) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (in 2017) came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support a link between acetaminophen and ADHD.
Higher incidences of ADHD were discovered in a later study conducted on nearly 113,000 kids in Norway in 2017 when women took acetaminophen for more than a month. Though, the researchers also discovered a link between ADHD and paternal acetaminophen usage, suggesting there may be more factors contributing to the elevated risk. Nonetheless, a connection of risk was discovered between ADHA and acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen use during pregnancy is linked to an elevated risk for ADHD, ASD, Autism , and hyperactive symptoms, according to a 2018 analysis of research including over 130,000 women and their children. This United States study was one of the first to show a direct correlation.
Acetaminophen Lawsuits for ADHD and Autism
Recently, there have been a growing number of lawsuits claiming that acetaminophen has caused ADHD and autism in their children. Most of the suits have been individual lawsuits brought between a variety of courts. As of June 2022, there are nineteen related lawsuits filed across U.S. District Courts.
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation Motion
A group of plaintiffs submitted a Motion to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 10 in response to the expanding litigation, requesting that complaints filed in various federal court systems be consolidated before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial procedures. The motion requests to consolidate the 19 cases marked as “Schedule of Actions” with the same claim that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen resulted in ASD, ADHD, or Autism. The defendants in these lawsuits include Costco, CVS, Safeway, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart.
Acetaminophen Lawsuit Background
All of the lawsuits claim that the plaintiffs bought and consumed acetaminophen while pregnant. Even while each individual lawsuit may make a distinct set of state law assertions or vary in damages, they all are based on the same basic facts and share five main characteristics.
The five main commonalities of all claims include: (1) that each plaintiff purchased an acetaminophen containing product at one of the named stores, (2) acetaminophen does interfere with development in the womb, (3) the named defendants marketed the products as safe to take during pregnancy and the plaintiffs relied on this information and took the drug, (4) defendant should have reasonably known or did know the connections between acetaminophen use in pregnant women and the connection to ADHD or autism, and (5) the named defendants did not properly warn pregnant women about the risk.
Claims in the Acetaminophen Lawsuits
The lawsuits are currently pending in six states, including Arkansas, California, Illinois, Missouri, Nevada, and Washington. All of the cases were brought by pregnant mothers who used acetaminophen-containing drugs and whose children were later found to have autism or ADHD. They assert that the defendants were negligent in their warnings regarding the link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and ADHD or autism.
Each complaint raises comparable legal and factual issues, demonstrating that customers were unintentionally exposed to long-term dangers and difficulties that could have been averted by knowing the connection between Tylenol and neurodevelopmental and hyperactive problems like autism, ADHD, and others.
Damages Available for Acetaminophen Lawsuits
Damages awarded in an Acetaminophen lawsuit will vary based on the injury sustained due to the drug. Some drugs cases can yield thousands to millions in damages based on lasting effects and what the drug caused. In any tort lawsuit, including acetaminophen lawsuits, both economic damages and non-economic damages can be sought.
Economic damages include anything that can be rightly shown or proven, like medical bills. In the case of acetaminophen lawsuits, economic damages can be higher than in other cases because those suing can show the years of costs that they have endured for caring for their children with ADHD or autism.
The damages that can be included in these claims are all medical expenses related to ADHD or autism for the child’s entire life, future medical expenses, costs of pharmaceuticals used to manage the condition, lost earning capacity due to providing care, therapy and special schooling related to the condition, and any other related medical costs.
Non-economic damages in such lawsuits are typically greater than economic damages because they include recovery for emotions endured for caring for their children. It is more difficult to put a number on non-economic damages, but a lawyer is likely to know a justified amount for drug lawsuits.
Plaintiffs will be able to seek recovery for pain and suffering due to their child’s condition, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and activities, loss of companionship, and inconvenience. Due to the fact that non-economic damages can reach high numbers, many states have put a cap on the amount of damages that can be collected in lawsuits, but that does not mean that a higher amount cannot be claimed.
Damages Cap in Louisiana
In contrast to most other states, Louisiana does not place a limit on the amount of damages (economic nor non-economic) a victim of personal injury can be awarded as recovery in the majority of cases, including car accidents, slip and fall accidents, injuries brought on by dangerous products or medications, including acetaminophen lawsuits.
The only exception to this rule is if the at-fault party (defendant) is a government agency. In these cases, compensation that can be received by an injured party can be no greater that $500,000.
Acetaminophen Lawsuit Attorney
The next step after gathering evidence to prepare for a lawsuit is to hire a lawyer to handle the case and submit a claim for compensation. An attorney will advise clients on all legal proceedings and keep plaintiffs updated each step of the way as they navigate the civil litigation process.
To be successful in an acetaminophen lawsuit, claimants will need to have evidence verifying exposure to the drug during pregnancy. They must also have medical evidence that their child was diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism or ADHD. A lawyer will be able to show this connection with the right evidence and seek the proper damages for their clients.
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