Acetaminophen vs. Paracetamol

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  • 0:03 Acetaminophen vs. Paracetamol
  • 0:43 Where Did These Names…
  • 1:42 Name Usage
  • 2:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Expert Contributor
Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

In this lesson, you're going to learn the difference between two drugs called acetaminophen and paracetamol. You'll also learn some alternative names for these drugs.

Acetaminophen vs. Paracetamol

Tylenol is one of the most famous drugs in the U.S. It's used to help relieve mild to moderate pain, fever, and headache. But the active ingredient in Tylenol is not Tylenol, it's acetaminophen. Or is it paracetamol? What's the difference? Let's find out.

Well, if we're going to get straight to the point here, there is absolutely no chemical nor therapeutic difference between acetaminophen and paracetamol. They are exactly the same drug compound. The only difference is the name. It's like pointing at a teddy bear and calling it 'teddy' and 'bear'. It doesn't matter. It's still the same teddy bear regardless of what names you've given it!

Where Did These Names Come From?

Well, every drug out there has more than one name. We can call it by its chemical name, generic name, and/or the trade name.

In this case, Tylenol is a trade name, one of many for this drug. Other trade names around the world for products containing acetaminophen include:

  • Abenol
  • Acephen
  • Apo-Acetaminophen
  • Feverall
  • Mapap
  • Ofirmev
  • Atasol
  • Panadol

Acetaminophen and paracetamol are two of the generic names for this compound. Another one is APAP. Regardless, all the names are referring to the same chemical substance and chemical name drug, which can be written as para-acetylaminophenol.

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Additional Activities

Convince a Friend

It can be difficult to accept that two products that are so widely accepted are actually the same. In this activity, you will convince your reader that acetaminophen and paracetamol are the same chemical.

Background Story

You and a friend are traveling overseas. Your friend gets a bad headache and it is hindering your ability to continue touring all the sights in the place. You go to a local pharmacy to find some Tylenol (your friend's favored headache medicine), but they don't carry that brand. The pharmacists tries to sell you paracetamol. You know this is the same thing, however your friend becomes very worried and isn't sure if it is safe.

Your Task

Use your acquired knowledge regarding the difference between acetaminophen and paracetamol and how they each relate to Tylenol to help ease your friend's concerns over taking paracetamol for the headache.

You must:

  • Use factual evidence.
  • Explain the chemical make up of acetaminophen and paracetamol.
  • Explain branding and give examples of other international names used to identify the same chemical compound.


  • If you have someone to work with, consider working in pairs to create a skit that will meet the task of explaining these concepts.
  • You might write a short play that could be acted out by others to complete the task.
  • You could also write as if a friend had sent you a text with this scenario and you are responding to your friend in text form.

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