“Cat­a­strophic” metami­zole

Bri­tish ex­pat 'lucky to be alive' after treat­ment

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Troughton

BRI­TISH ex­pat Joan Judge con­sid­ers her­self “lucky to be alive” after a “cat­a­strophic re­ac­tion” to con­tro­ver­sial painkiller metami­zole and hav­ing her fin­gers and toes am­pu­tated.

Now aged 67, she was pre­scribed the anal­gesic in June 2013 for a kid­ney com­plaint, but de­vel­oped se­vere side ef­fects after tak­ing just three sin­gle tablets.

His­tor­i­cally, the drug – fre­quently avail­able as Nolotil in Spain – has al­ways been seen as a safe treat­ment and it was first thought Joan was suf­fer­ing from leukaemia. How­ever, her med­i­cal notes recorded a “cat­a­strophic re­ac­tion” to the drug.

And she de­vel­oped sep­sis, a lifethreat­en­ing in­fec­tion, and necro­sis, the death of cells through a lack of blood sup­ply and com­monly known as gan­grene.

Costa Blanca cam­paigner Cristina Gar­cia del Campo is work­ing with the pow­er­ful Madrid-based Agen­cia Es­panola de Medica­men­tos y Pro­duc­tos San­i­tar­ios (AEMPS) to in­ves­ti­gate the po­ten­tially fa­tal side ef­fects of metami­zole.

Health chiefs at AEMPS have al­ready promised to take ac­tion to pro­tect pa­tients; it has been dis­cov­ered An­glo Sax­ons and Scan­di­na­vians are amongst groups par­tic­u­larly “at risk”.

They are po­ten­tially more likely to de­velop agran­u­lo­cy­to­sis – a sudden and dan­ger­ous drop in white blood cells which can trig­ger a se­ri­ous in­fec­tion.

Joan, who lives in An­dalu­cia, re­sponded to Crisitina’s ap­peal for in­for­ma­tion about peo­ple who suf­fered side ef­fects from tak­ing metami­zole.

Ini­tially she agreed to be in­ter­viewed by CB­News. How­ever, she de­cided re­liv­ing her “night­mare” would be too up­set­ting but au­tho­rised Cristina, a pro­fes­sional med­i­cal trans­la­tor, to tell her story and re­lease pho­to­graphs.

“She only took three sin­gle tablets but sud­denly couldn’t speak and couldn’t make any sense – it was all gob­blede­gook,” said Cristina. “At first they thought she had de­vel­oped leukaemia.

Med­i­cal notes

“Her med­i­cal notes read ‘a cat­a­strophic re­ac­tion to Nolotil’; she de­vel­oped sep­sis and necro­sis. Her fin­gers, toes, nose and her ears – the ex­trem­i­ties of her body – all turned black.

“She was ly­ing there in hos­pi­tal and ask­ing what the smell was, the smell of some­thing rot­ting, and couldn’t re­alise it was her. They am­pu­tated part of her feet and some of her fin­gers – they man­aged to save the other af­fected parts.”

And Cristina said when Joan was fi­nally re­leased from hos­pi­tal she had to learn to walk again and was now reg­is­tered as dis­abled.

“She did want to be in­ter­viewed at first but said she could not go through with it al­though she is very happy for her story to be told – there are peo­ple who still say they can­not talk about it be­cause of their night­mares.”

Cristina added: “She is re­ally, re­ally grate­ful to the doc­tors who saved her life. She has al­ways asked me to say she was very happy with the treat­ment she re­ceived – she said she is lucky to be alive and very grate­ful.”

She said AEMPS needed pre­cise de­tails. “Peo­ple have been ab­so­lutely amaz­ing in help­ing; I am con­vinced there is an ad­verse con­nec­tion to this drug and AEMPS has been analysing all the in­for­ma­tion they have been sent but some­time they want more de­tails.”

And Cristina said lawyers had con­tacted her about the pos­si­bil­ity of a class ac­tion on a ‘no win, no fee’ ba­sis and she would pass on any de­tails if peo­ple wanted to be in­volved.

“The law recog­nises the right to sue for com­pen­sa­tion,” she said. “There may be peo­ple who have been af­fected and feel very strongly they should re­ceive help after life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences – we don’t want to get doc­tors in trou­ble be­cause they haven’t done any­thing wrong.”

Cristina can be con­tacted at cristi­nadru­gre­search@gmail.com or on Face­book at Cristina Re­search In­for­ma­tion.

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