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Nolotil is one of the most prescribed medicines in Spain. EFE
Spanish government sued over deaths of dozens of Britons who took Nolotil

Spanish government sued over deaths of dozens of Britons who took Nolotil

An association is studying 40 deaths linked to the drug which can suppress immune systems and cause sepsis in northern Europeans

Álvaro Soto

Madrid.

Friday, 1 December 2023, 17:25

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An association which represents victims affected by pharmaceutical products is suing the Spanish government for failing to protect people from the potentially fatal side effects of Nolotil.

Metamizole, sold in Spain under the brand name Nolotil, can cause a condition called agranulocytosis, which reduces white blood cells and increases the risk of life-threatening infections. Studies suggest that agranulocytosis is much more prevalent in patients with British ethnicity, which is why metamizole is banned in Britain, the United States and Australia, among other countries, including India.

In 2009, the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella published research concluding that metamizole agranulocytosis is an adverse effect that occurs more frequently in the British population. And a December 2018 European Medicines Agency (EMA) report highlighted that "the potential to induce agranulocytosis may be associated with genetic characteristics of certain populations".

The ADAF association, which filed its lawsuit on 14 November, has identified 350 suspected cases of agranulocytosis between 1996 and 2023, including 170 Britons who have suffered sepsis, organ failure and amputations. ADAF is also examining 40 deaths that the drug may have caused, or contributed to.

Metamizole has been sold for more than 50 years in Spain under different trade names. It is the most widely sold drug in Spain, with more than 24 million units a year, and is prescribed as an analgesic for moderate or acute pain, and as an antipyretic when other alternatives are not effective.

The Spanish authorities currently recommend that healthcare professionals "do not to use metamizole in patients in whom it is not possible to carry out controls (for example, in a floating population or tourists)".

"This drug has destroyed the lives of many people and should be withdrawn," Cristina García del Campo, founder of ADAF, told SUR. She demanded new research on the drug and said that it should not be administered to British patients. "Since 2018, doctors have been more careful when prescribing Nolotil, but not enough, and it can even be obtained without a prescription," García del Campo said.

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