Way too many people are taking way too much Tylenol -- and Johnson & Johnson's latest window-dressing maneuvers won't fix a thing.
J&J says the changes it will make -- next year, mind you, not today -- will help stop the overuse that's turned the drug's main ingredient, acetaminophen, into the leading cause of liver failure in the United States.
But they're not changing the drug.
They're not even changing the dose.
They're simply changing the maximum number of pills a patient should take each day from eight to six.
Big stinking deal -- and when you consider the musty odor that's led to a recall of some Tylenol products, I do mean "stinking." Anyone who's been paying attention can tell you that the real problem isn't the instructions on the label, or even that awful smell.
It's the drug itself -- along with the fact that drug makers have put it into just about everything from painkillers like J&J's Tylenol to cold meds like Procter & Gamble's Nyquil... not to mention prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet.
Many people overdose on acetaminophen simply because they have no idea how much they've taken.
Then, they find out the hard way what happens when you take too much -- and liver failure is just the beginning. One study earlier this year found people who pop just four Tylenols a week have double the risk of blood cancers.
Two other recent studies found that kids given acetaminophen regularly -- say, to reduce an ordinary and often harmless low-grade fever -- have a higher risk of asthma, wheezing, and other breathing problems.
And let's not forget the infamous recalls of both regular and children's Tylenol lines due to quality control issues ranging from that musty odor I mentioned earlier to bacterial contamination and "tiny particles" -- including bits of metal -- in the medicine.
Throw in all the other problems linked to acetaminophen -- nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and allergic reactions, just to name a few -- and it's bad news all around, no matter how many pills you take.