Overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers--pills like aspirin, Tylenol, Excedrin, Aleve and Advil--kills 16,000 people each year nationwide, according to CBS. Take too many and your liver can fail or your kidneys or your stomach can bleed. The FDA now proposes to slap a prominent mandatory warning label on the products. All three networks deployed their in-house doctors to explain the problem--and the Story of the Day was the lead on ABC and NBC.

ABC and CBS both assigned a reporter to give us the regulatory background to the FDA's decision before they turned to their doctor's bedside advice. ABC's David Kerley (subscription required) cited "pressure from the drug companies" as the reason why the FDA did not act years ago. CBS' Bob Orr stated that pain-relief overdoses cause 700 emergency room admissions each day nationwide.

NBC went straight to the physician. Before she returned to network journalism, NBC's Nancy Snyderman had been the public relations voice of Johnson & Johnson. She complimented herself on her former employer's handling of safety issues.

Dr Timothy Johnson of ABC (no link) pointed out that "the real danger" lies in the fact that these medicines are not only available in the pills themselves, but are often an unmentioned ingredient in other products. Dr Jon LaPook of CBS (no link) warned Tylenol users that "the liver is a very unforgiving organ. You only have one liver."


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