Paracetamol also known as acetaminophen or APAP, chemically named N-acetyl-p-aminophenol, is a widely used over-the-counter analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever reducer).[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.).Common trade names in English-speaking markets are Tylenol and Panadol.
Paracetamol is classified as a mild analgesic. It is commonly used for the relief of headaches and other minor aches and pains and is a major ingredient in numerous cold and flu remedies. In combination with opioid analgesics, paracetamol can also be used in the management of more severe pain such as post-surgical pain and providing palliative care in advanced cancer patients. Though paracetamol is used to treat inflammatory pain, it is not generally classified as an NSAID because it exhibits only weak anti-inflammatory activity.
While generally safe for use at recommended doses, even small overdoses can be fatal. Compared to other over-the-counter pain relievers, paracetamol is significantly more toxic in overdose but may be less toxic when used chronically at recommended doses. Paracetamol is the active metabolite of phenacetin and acetanilide, both once popular as analgesics and antipyretics in their own right.
However, unlike phenacetin, acetanilide and their combinations, paracetamol is not considered carcinogenic at therapeutic doses.The words acetaminophen (used in the United States, Canada, Japan) and paracetamol (used elsewhere) both come from a chemical name for the compound: para-acetylaminophenol and para-acetylaminophenol. In some contexts, such as on prescription bottles of painkillers that incorporate this medicine, it is simply abbreviated as APAP, for acetyl-para-aminophenol. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system.