Painkiller withdrawn due to suicide link

The Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have announced that the painkiller, co-proxamol, is being withdrawn because of links to overdose cases.

Co-proxamol is associated with 300 – 400 intentional and accidental fatal overdoses each year. A recent consultation, which studied the safety and effectiveness of the commonly prescribed painkiller, recommended that the drug should be withdrawn, stating that the benefits of co-proxamol did not outweigh the risks.

The MHRA Chairman, Sir Alasdair Breckenridge, said that attempts to strengthen the labelling of co-proxamol had been "ineffective" in reducing the high fatality rate involving both intentional and accidental overdose.

The Chairman of the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM), Professor Gordon Duff, said that co-proxamol would be phased out of the market place gradually to give patients time to discuss their situation with their doctor and find a suitable alternative. He said: "There is no need for panic or concern and if patients have been taking co-proxamol continuously for a long time they should not stop without consulting their doctor."

Co-proxamol, which contains a combination of paracetemol and dextroropoxyphene, is only available by prescription.

An estimated 1.7 million GP patients receive 7.5 million prescriptions for co-proxamol every year.


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