Suicides drop after painkiller ban19th June 2009
Suicides have fallen significantly since the withdrawal of a common painkiller, according to researchers.
A study, published in the British Medical Journal, has shown that the gradual phase-out of co-proxamol led to 350 fewer suicides and accidental deaths in England and Wales.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced the withdrawal of the drug in 2005, with the licence revoked in 2007 and GPs encouraged to prescribe other painkillers.
The move has proved unpopular with patients and doctors, and Arthritis Care says some patients now have difficulty in controlling their pain.
The director of the Centre for Suicide Research at Oxford University, Professor Keith Hawton, who led the study, said that before the restrictions were introduced, co-proxamol was responsible for a fifth of all drug-related suicides.
By 2007, prescribing of it has fallen by 59%, but deaths from co-proxamol fell by 62% with no increase in deaths from other painkillers.
Professor Hawton said: "This marked reduction in suicides and accidental poisonings involving co-proxamol during this period, with no evidence of an increase in deaths involving other analgesics, suggests the initiative has been effective."
The MHRA said co-proxamol – a drug that is “extremely dangerous” in overdose situations - was involved in 300-400 self-poisoning deaths each year before it was withdrawn.
The agency also said there was no evidence that the drug offered any advantaged over paracetamol or ibuprofen at normal doses.
But Arthritis Care said co-proxamol made the difference between people being able to perform simple activities and living in chronic, debilitating pain.
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Title: Suicides drop after painkiller ban
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 11824
Date Added: 19th Jun 2009