Side ef­fects re­ports surge

Span­ish peo­ple de­velop metamizole com­pli­ca­tions

Costa Levante News - - FRONT PAGE -

Span­ish peo­ple de­velop painkiller com­pli­ca­tions

By Jack Troughton RE­PORTS of Span­ish peo­ple suf­fer­ing dan­ger­ous side ef­fects af­ter tak­ing the con­tro­ver­sial painkiller metamizole are ris­ing af­ter in­ter­na­tional pub­lic­ity about the com­monly used anal­gesic.

It is thought at least 20 Bri­tish peo­ple – both hol­i­day mak­ers and ex­pats – have died af­ter tak­ing the drug; com­monly known as Nolotil in Spain, although there are other brands avail­able.

Be­cause of the risks as­so­ci­ated, par­tic­u­larly with the Bri­tish pop­u­la­tion but also to north Euro­peans, Span­ish health chiefs took ac­tion; in­sist­ing it only be avail­able on pre­scrip­tion and for doc­tors to strictly mon­i­tor pa­tients tak­ing the drug. They or­dered a ban on it be­ing given to hol­i­day­mak­ers.

The re­sult­ing head­lines and the story of how med­i­cal trans­la­tor Cristina Gar­cia del Campo re­searched the prob­lem to alert the pow­er­ful medicine li­cens­ing agency AEMPS has trig­gered new cases be­ing re­ported to her.

She told CBNews within days of news­pa­pers, ra­dio sta­tions and tele­vi­sion chan­nels car­ry­ing the story; she be­gan re­ceiv­ing re­ports from across the coun­try of Span­ish peo­ple de­vel­op­ing agran­u­lo­cy­to­sis – a dan­ger­ous fall in the white blood cell count, the body’s nat­u­ral de­fence against in­fec­tion.

Peo­ple have de­vel­oped a some­times fa­tal sep­sis, gone into sep­tic shock or suf­fered lifechang­ing con­di­tions as a re­sult of the rare re­ac­tion to metamizole.

Cristina, from Javea, who started her re­search af­ter the death of a client she was trans­lat­ing for at hos­pi­tal, is con­tin­u­ing her pri­vate project to keep the author­i­ties up to speed.

“They re­ally don’t know what’s go­ing on; I need to tell AEMPS, the Min­istry of Health does not know this – when asked if there were cases in­volv­ing Span­ish peo­ple, they said ‘no’,” she said.

Prob­lem

One 28-year-old de­vel­oped the side ef­fect and was rushed to hos­pi­tal very ill; her fam­ily were alerted by a tele­vi­sion story. “They had ab­so­lutely no idea about it...the doc­tor asked if they had any An­glo Saxon ori­gins, they said ‘no’ and the med­i­cal team said they be­lieved the prob­lem was Nolotil – they stopped giv­ing it and she started get­ting bet­ter.”

Cristina said another Span­ish woman took the anal­gesic at a fam­ily cel­e­bra­tion for joint pain and started itch­ing “all over” and strug­gled to breathe and was taken to ac­ci­dent and emer­gency and was im­me­di­ately given a tra­cheotomy.

Cristina said: “Doc­tors said if she had not ar­rived when she did, she could have died – now at home, the pa­tient feels tired all the time when she used to be very jolly and full of life.”

And she has also been told of another se­ri­ous case in­volv­ing a Bri­tish ex­pat in Barcelona who has lived in Spain since 1993. She took Nolotil for sev­eral months and col­lapsed in her doc­tor’s surgery – later di­ag­nosed with a re­ac­tion to metamizole, the woman was put in an in­duced coma for 10 days, which saved her life – she re­mained in in­ten­sive care for a month.

She told Cristina: “I now know it was the Nolotil which had been rot­ting my im­mune sys­tem away; I went into sep­tic shock and all my ma­jor or­gans were af­fected.”

Cristina said she wanted the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to con­tinue. “There are peo­ple who have died and will never know it was be- cause of a re­ac­tion to metamizole; I want to help un­cover all of this.

“I want to see how the new guide­lines are ob­served – if they are not, I want to help make sure the drug is banned com­pletely.”

She said it was now ac­cepted by the author­i­ties that in­ci­dents when peo­ple suf­fered a re­ac­tion were un­der-re­ported by doc­tors. “Peo­ple who have seen the prob­lem pub­li­cised keep tele­phon­ing and writ­ing to me; it is hard work but could save lives.”–

Photo by An­gel Gar­cía

Cristina with a box of Nolotil

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