What is acetaminophen?
Acetaminophen, the primary ingredient found in Tylenol, is one of the most popular over-the-counter (OTC) medications in the U.S. and is used to treat a wide array of maladies. It is an analgesic (pain reliever) and antipyretic (fever-reducer) drug that is most commonly used to treat headaches, as well as minor aches in pains usually associated with joints and muscles.
Acetaminophen was developed in the late 19th century, but wasn't used in a medical capacity until 1946 when the Institute for the Study of Analgesics and Sedative Drugs awarded a grant to the New York City Department of Health to examine the health implications of some analgesic agents. In 1948, Bernard Brodie and Julius Axelrod, the lead researchers of the study, found that acetaminophen did not have the toxic effects of other analgesic agents on the market and advocated for its widespread usage in pain relief. In 1955, acetaminophen went on sale in the U.S. under the brand name, "Tylenol," and continues to be one of the most popular pain relievers on the market.
Why do I need a prescription for acetaminophen reimbursement?
As a result of the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), as of January 1, 2011, a new set of uniform standards were put into place regarding the reimbursement of medical expenses. To reimburse the cost of OTC medicines and drugs under FSAs, HSAs and other consumer spending accounts, account holders must submit a prescription from a physician for each product. This does not apply to the reimbursement of the cost of insulin, but common OTC products like pain relief medications, cold & flu products and many more require a prescription for full reimbursement.
However, not every OTC product falls under this distinction, as products like bandages, first aid supplies, diagnostic products and more do not require a prescription. For more information on a specific product, be sure to consult our Eligibility List.