In 2011, a panel of scientists approved by the California governor voted to make acetaminophen a priority for consideration. The panel’s, called the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC), purpose is to identify chemicals that have been clearly shown through scientifically valid testing to cause cancer, pursuant to California Health & Safety Code § 25249.8.The scientists appointed to the committee come from a range different backgrounds in the sciences, from pathology to epidemiology, and meet at least once a year go through a three step process to determine if a chemical should be added to the government list. After 9 years, the process is currently only just completing step 1 for acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen has been available without a prescription since 1955 to be used for pain and fever. Researchers have previously noted that acetaminophen has several pharmacological properties that suggest it could be carcinogenic in human beings. It has been reported that the committee reviewed 133 published peer review studies researching acetaminophen’s relationship to cancer. Some of these studies allegedly reported an increased risk of some types of cancers, some did not.
Critics say the Proposition 65 law causes California regulators to be “overzealous“, since the state has a list of 900 chemicals, more than any other state. Supporters of the legislation say Proposition 65 protects consumers nationwide by compelling manufactures to make products safer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was reported to have warned state officials that labeling acetaminophen as cancer-causing would be illegal under federal law.
There has been an public comment submission page about the inclusion of acetaminophen on the OEHHA website since November 29th. The public comment period is scheduled to end on January 27th. The panel is scheduled to have a meeting about the drug following the end of it’s public comment period next week.