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For detailed information about the active ingredient in Tylenol, see paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen
Tylenol PM (left) and Tylenol (right)
Acetaminophen (paracetamol), in line-angle representation (aromatic ring in Kekulé form).
Acetaminophen (paracetamol), in ball-and-stick representation (aromatic ring indicating resonance/bond equivalence)

Tylenol /ˈtlənɒl/ is an American brand of drugs advertised for reducing pain, reducing fever, and relieving the symptoms of allergies, cold, cough headache, and influenza. The active ingredient of its original flagship product is acetaminophen, an analgesic and antipyretic; it is commonly known elsewhere in the world by its international nonproprietary name, paracetamol. Like the words "acetaminophen" and "paracetamol", the brand name "Tylenol" is derived from the chemical name for the compound, N-aceTYL-para-aminophENOL (APAP).[1] The brand name "Tylenol" is owned by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.[2]

Medical uses[edit]

Main article: Paracetamol

The active ingredient in Tylenol is paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, a widely used over-the-counter analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer).[3][4] Acetaminophen is the name adopted for this pharmacologic agent in the U.S. (USAN) and Japan; paracetamol is approved in a variety of international venues (INN, AAN, BAN, etc.).[5][6][7]

1982 Chicago Tylenol murders and first recall[edit]

On September 29, 1982, a "Tylenol scare" began when the first of seven individuals died in metropolitan Chicago, after ingesting Extra Strength Tylenol that had been deliberately contaminated with cyanide. Within a week, the company pulled 31 million bottles of tablets back from retailers, making it one of the first major product recalls in American history.[8]

As a result of the crisis, all Tylenol capsules were discontinued, as were capsules of other brand names. Retained by McNeil President Joseph Chiesa, new product consultant Martin Calle and management strategist Calle & Company conceived the world's first tamper-resistant gelatin-enrobed capsule called "Tylenol Gelcaps," which proved to resuscitate the 92% of capsule-segment sales lost to the recall. The tamper-resistant, triple-sealed safety containers were swiftly placed on the shelves of retailers 10 weeks after the withdrawal, and other manufacturers followed suit. The crisis cost the company more than $100 million, but Tylenol regained 100% of the market share it had before the crisis. The Tylenol murderer was never found, and a $100,000 reward offered by Johnson & Johnson remains unclaimed.

Tylenol remains a top seller, controlling about 35% of the painkiller market in North America, according to a study published in 2003.[9]

2010 Tylenol recall[edit]

On January 15, 2010, 20 months after first receiving consumer complaints, Johnson & Johnson announced a voluntary recall of several hundred batches of popular medicines, including Benadryl, Motrin, Rolaids, Simply Sleep, St. Joseph Aspirin and Tylenol.[10] The recall was due to complaints of a musty smell which is suspected to be due to contamination of the packaging with the chemical 2,4,6-tribromoanisole.[11] The full health effects of 2,4,6-tribromoanisole are not known but no serious events have been documented in medical literature.[12] The recall came 20 months after McNeil first began investigating consumer complaints about moldy-smelling bottles of Tylenol Arthritis Relief caplets, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. The recall included 53 million bottles of over-the-counter products including Tylenol, Motrin and Rolaids, Benadryl and St. Joseph's Aspirin, involving lots in the Americas, the United Arab Emirates and Fiji.[13]

On April 30, 2010, another recall was issued for 40 products including liquid infant and children's pain relievers, Tylenol, and Motrin and allergy medications Zyrtec and Benadryl.[13] A Food and Drug Administration report said its inspectors found thick dust and grime covering certain equipment, a hole in the ceiling and duct tape-covered pipes at the Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, facility that made 40 products recalled. New testing regulations were enacted after the recall to ensure product quality and safety. [14]

On Wednesday, May 5, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed[15] that the bacteria found at the Johnson & Johnson plant that made the recalled Children's Tylenol was Burkholderia cepacia, a bacteria often resistant to common antibiotics.[16] The bacteria was found on the outside of certain product-containing drums, but not in the finished product. The CDC has stated that Burkholderia cepacia is not likely to cause health problems for those with healthy immune systems, but those with weaker ones and those with chronic lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, could be more susceptible to infection.


Tylenol has many different advertisement approaches. One of these advertisement campaigns focuses on "getting you back to normal", whereas the other commercials focus on Tylenol's current slogan, "Feel better, Tylenol". In the "Feel better, Tylenol" commercials, Tylenol places emphasis on the importance of sleep; various people are seen sleeping in this commercial while a voiceover describes how sleep can help repair and heal the human body during times of aches and pains.[17] In the "getting you back to normal" commercial, Tylenol places more emphasis on helping its consumers get back to their daily routines; many different people are shown first experiencing headaches and other sorts of body pain, where a voiceover then states that Tylenol Rapid Release can help rid aches and pains; the various people are then showed enjoying their everyday lives, and are seen as "back to normal".[18]

In an older commercial from 1986, Tylenol emphasized that it is the drug that American hospitals trust the most. In this ad, Susan Sullivan told the consumer that Tylenol was a drug that could be trusted by Americans since many doctors also trusted it; she went on to state that doctors prescribed Tylenol four times more often than the other leading pain relieving drugs combined.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ West, Nancy. "History of TYLENOL" (PDF). Nancy West Communications. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  2. ^ Euromonitor International. "Acetaminophen benefits from concerns surrounding safety of analgesics". Market Research World. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ Aghababian, Richard V. (22 October 2010). Essentials of Emergency Medicine. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 814. ISBN 978-1-4496-1846-9. 
  4. ^ Ahmad, Jawad (17 October 2010). Hepatology and Transplant Hepatology: A Case Based Approach. Springer. p. 194. ISBN 978-1-4419-7085-5. 
  5. ^ International Nonproprietary Names (INN) for Pharmaceutical Substances: Lists 1-96 of Proposed INN and lists 1-57 of Recommended INN, cumulative list N°12. World Health Organization. 2007. p. v. ISBN 9789240560253. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Macintyre, Pamela; Rowbotham, David; Walker, Suellen (26 September 2008). Clinical Pain Management Second Edition: Acute Pain. CRC Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-340-94009-9. 
  7. ^ "TGA Approved Terminology for Medicines, Section 1 – Chemical Substances" (PDF). Therapeutic Goods Administration, Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government. July 1999. p. 97. 
  8. ^ New York Times article: "Tylenol made a hero of Johnson & Johnson : The recall that started them all."
  9. ^ Drug-Induced Hepatotoxicity, William M. Lee, New England Journal of Medicine, July 31, 2003, 349:474-485.
  10. ^ In Recall, a Role Model Stumbles, Natasha Singer, New York Times, 17 January 2010
  11. ^ Tylenol recall expands, WebMD, accessed 1-17-2010.
  12. ^ McNeil Consumer Healthcare Announces Voluntary Recall of Certain Over-The-Counter (OTC) Products In The Americas, UAE, and Fiji
  13. ^ a b FACTBOX-Johnson & Johnson's recent product recalls
  14. ^ Grime, dust, bacteria found at J&J plant: FDA (Reuters, May 4, 2010
  15. ^ Bacteria Identified in Recall, CNN, First Published: May 5, 2010
  16. ^ Kavilanz, Parija (6 May 2010). "Bacteria identified in Tylenol recall". CNN. Retrieved 21 July 2010. 
  17. ^ Midori's Tylenol Commercial
  18. ^ Tylenol Rapid Release Commercial
  19. ^ Tylenol Commercial (1986)

External links[edit]