Apparently, a Food and Drug Administration warning four months ago was missed by many physicians, pharmacists, and patients, so the agency, in an unusual move, saw fit last week to remind us: Stop writing prescriptions for, stop dispensing prescriptions for, and stop taking prescription medications containing more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen.

Your liver will thank you - acetaminophen overdose has overtaken viral hepatitis infection as the most common cause of acute liver failure. It is now the second-most common cause of liver failure requiring transplantation in the United States.

In January, the agency called on doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to stop recommending or writing prescriptions for drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet that had more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen.

The acetaminophen dose in formulations of opioid pain relievers has crept up to 600 milligrams and even 700 milligrams, because it was thought to enhance the painkiller's effectiveness and make it less addictive.

But the FDA now believes that such high doses have demonstrated no superiority over lower doses, and that they pose dangers to the liver, especially because patients sometimes also take over-the-counter acetaminophen.

The voluntary withdrawal does not affect over-the-counter medications, and pharmacy shelves remain stocked with "extra-strength" over-the-counter acetaminophen (500 milligrams) for pain relief, as well as over-the-counter stalwarts as Benadryl, Excedrin, Nyquil, Robitussin, Theraflu and Vicks. And many surgeons and dentists continue to recommend these medications to patients.

- Los Angeles Times