According to a recently-published study in the medical journal The Lancet acetaminophen, an active ingredient in such medicines as Tylenol and Panadol is no more helpful than a sugar pill. The study, partially funded by the drug manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline Australia, involved 1,643 people with acute low-back pain.
The subjects were divided into three groups. Each was given two boxes. The first group was given two containers of 500-miligram acetaminophen tablets and instructed to use “as needed.”
The second group received a container of acetaminophen as well as an “as needed” container of placebos (sugar pills). The remaining group was given two boxes of placebos. The research team instructed the individuals to take no more than six pills each day from the regular box and no more than two from the “as needed” container.
Over a three-month period, the investigative team discovered “no difference” among the three groups of participants. They demonstrated no difference in the areas of disability, function, pain, quality of life, recovery time or symptom change. Approximately 75 percent of the subjects were pleased with their results regardless of whether or not they had been given placebos.
The makers of Tylenol, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, stated that physicians need to look at “the entire body of scientific evidence when making recommendations or changing guidelines.” They emphasized that “the safety and efficacy profile of acetaminophen is supported by more than 150 studies over the past 50 years.”
Dr. Houman Danesh, director of Integrative Pain Management and assistant professor of anesthesiology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, New York told the press: “While this is a fascinating study, it is only one study and shouldn’t change clinical behavior. The criteria was to be pain-free for seven continuous days when using Tylenol. It does not address if Tylenol will give you a few hours of relief or a few days.”
He concluded: “Most back pain patients improve in 6-8 weeks. It is important to note that the best treatment of back pain involves not only pain medication, but also physical therapy to address muscle imbalances. “
Tylenol Takes A Dive