Phenacetin was widely used until the third quarter of the twentieth century, often in the form of an "A.P.C." or aspirin- phenacetin-caffeine compound analgesic, as a remedy for fever and pain. However the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered the wtihdrawal of drugs containing phenacetin in November 1983, owing to its carcinogenic and kidney-damaging properties (Federal Register of October 5, 1983 (48 FR 45466))> As a result some branded, previously phenacetin-based preparations continued to be sold, but with the phenacetin replaced by safer alternatives.
A popular brand of phenacetin was Roche's Saridon, which was reformulated in 1983 to contain propyphenazone, paracetamol and caffeine. Coricidin was also reformulated without phenacetin. Paracetamol is a metabolite of phenacetin with similar analgesic and antipyretic effects, but the new formulaiton has not been found to have phenacetin carcinogenicity.
Phenacitin is now being used as a cutting agent to adulterate cocaine in the the UK, owing to the similar physical features of the. two drugs