THE PILLS DON’T WORK

Irish Daily Mail - - Good Health -

WHY your pills might not be ef­fec­tive. This week: Painkillers

OPI­OID painkillers in­clud­ing codeine and tra­madol can help with se­vere pain from con­di­tions such as arthri­tis, but they won’t work for hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple in Ire­land.

That’s be­cause up to 20 per cent of us don’t pro­duce enough of an en­zyme called CYP2D6, which helps break down these drugs to pro­duce the pain-re­liev­ing ef­fect, says Dr Roger Knaggs, a se­nior lec­turer in clin­i­cal phar­macy. As a re­sult, the drug will sim­ply pass out of the body without be­ing used. How­ever, peo­ple of Mid­dle Eastern and Asian ori­gin have the op­po­site prob­lem — too high lev­els of CYP2D6 — so they may ex­pe­ri­ence a rapid hit, with the ef­fects wear­ing off very quickly.

CYP2D6 en­zymes also break down the an­tide­pres­sant Prozac, some beta-blockers for angina and the can­cer drug Tamox­ifen.

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