Acetaminophen is a potent, non-opiate analgesic and antipyretic that is both widely prescribed and sold over-the-counter without a prescription. Increasingly, the drug has become available in different combinations to form compound analgesics, which are often mixed with codeine, and marketed under various trade names. In some European countries, acetaminophen is commonly known as paracetamol.
Acetanilide, a precursor to acetaminophen, possesses significant effectiveness as a pain reliever, but it is also toxic in moderate doses. In response, medicinal chemists synthesized the compound referred to as N-acetyl-para-aminophenol, which allows acetaminophen to attach to the enzyme that is responsible for biosynthesis of hormone-like molecules termed prostaglandins.
Acetominophen's fever-reducing and pain-relieving abilities were discovered in 1893, and the medicinal aid became available under prescription in 1956. Since 1963, the drug has been manufactured in over-the-counter forms, and it is especially popular in Britain and the United States.
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