Drugs: The Dangers of Analgesics

The benefits of such over-the-counter pain relievers as aspirin and APCs have long been recognized. But evidence that these familiar remedies are not necessarily harmless in all circumstances has accumulated only recently. For reasons not yet understood, people who take excessive doses over a number of years may incur anemia or kidney damage.

Warning Required. First of the currently popular analgesics to be questioned was phenacetin, the "P" in APC tablets (aspirin, phenacetin, caffeine). Medical centers in Europe reported that patients who had regularly taken large quantities of painkillers containing phenacetin had suffered kidney damage, and there had...