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Most Consumers Don't Know What's In OTC Pain Killers

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Most Consumers Don't Know What's In OTC Pain Killers

When it comes to over-the-counter painkillers, many consumers fail to read the medication labels of the products they use.

According to a study conducted recently at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, only 41 percent of people read medication labels. Even more alarming, only 31 percent of those surveyed knew that Tylenol contained acetaminophen. Forty-seven percent knew that Motrin is made of ibuprofen, while only 19 percent knew that Advil is also ibuprofen-based. Seventy-five percent of participants were in the dark that Bayer is an aspirin and 19 percent were unaware about Aleve's naproxen sodium.

In response to the study, researchers are calling for a universal label for all medications that contain acetaminophen.

"People may unintentionally misuse these medicines to a point where they cause severe liver damage," said Michael Wolf, senior author of the study, to CBS News. "It's easy to exceed the safe limit if people don't realize how much acetaminophen they are taking. Unlike prescription products, there is no gatekeeper, no one monitoring how you take it."

However, even with prescription medication patients are making mistakes that result in emergency room visits. In an effort to stem this behavior, the Food and Drug Administration is calling for label standardization.