Pain medication is one of the marvels of the modern age. But as Americans buy billions of doses of acetaminophen each year, the risk of misuse increases. More than 400 people die and 42,000 are hospitalized every year in the United States from overdoses of the drug. Yesterday a federal advisory panel recommended banning some popular prescription drugs – including Vicodin and Percocet – because of safety concerns. For more we turn to New York Times science writer Donald McNeil.