Irish man dies after taking medicine on holiday in Spain

Holiday makers are cautioned about side effects related to the drug metamizole

LAST UPDATED: 26 Jul, 2016 @ 10:41
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Billy-smythIRISH man William “Billy” Smyth has died after suffering an adverse reaction to a commonly prescribed painkiller.

A Spanish GP prescribed Nolotil to the 66-year-old man from Mullingar in February.

In April, he fell ill, had a very low white blood cell count and eventually died from septic shock.

Nolotil is a brand of the anti-inflammatory drug metamizole

Metamizole is known to cause severe side effects. The drug is banned in Ireland and the US, among other countries, and is only available through prescription in Spain.

In a 2005 report by the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration detailed the reason for the drug’s ban: “An analgesic, antipyretic drug, found to be effective at reducing fever but withdrawn from the market and prohibited for export… on the basis of reports of agranulocytosis, a sometimes fatal blood condition, associated with its use… In its decision, the FDA cited the availability of effective orally administered drug products… and concluded that the risks associated with this drug far outweigh any benefit.”

The drug goes by many brand names, and anyone, especially those on holiday, should take extreme caution in what drugs they consume.





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  1. This also happened to me. I live in Spain and was prescribed Nolotil for pain in my shoulder. I lost all my white blood cells and was in hospital for 3 weeks. My doctor said I was lucky to be alive. I lost 46lbs and was told by the doctor in rehabilitation that I will be partially disabled for the rest of my life with limited movement in my upper arms. Whilsthe this is not common knowledge in Spain, many doctors do know about it. The blood specialists were very familiar with Nolotil and it’s side effects. It is a disgrace that this is still being prescribed. The drug company is entirely to blame for this man’s death, they know it can result in death but continue to sell it. I consulted a lawyer but he advised that the litigation would be prohibitively expensive so there is nothing I can do.

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