THE Olive Press is calling on Spain to ban a lethal painkiller that is killing countless of unsuspecting expats.
Dr Nina King, of Oasis Dental Care in Marbella, fully supports the campaign, telling the Olive Press the drug is not something she prescribes.
“It’s not a drug I use, I stick to safe and standard medication,” she said, “And after seeing what damage it can do, it’s a drug I won’t be using in the future.”
Marbella-based private doctor Dra. Victoria María Chacón Almeda also agrees the drug is dangerous.
“I don’t prescribe the drug,” she told the Olive Press, “I have lots of British patients and I am aware of what it is capable of doing.”
“There needs to be a lot more research on its impact,” she added.
It comes after Briton Graham Ward, 75, complained to the Olive Press of how he was prescribed the deadly Nolotil drug by a dentist last week, the very same drug that was blamed for killing his wife in 2006.
The Marbella-based expat was furious when he was told to take the painkiller by his Spanish dentist, after suffering from a difficult abscess.
His wife Mary, 59, had died after being prescribed the same drug following a double mastectomy at Costa del Sol Hospital.
“Within 24 hours she was in intensive care, her white blood cell count plummeted to zero within days,” explains Graham, a former computer technician, from London.
She never regained consciousness and was on a life support machine for FOUR months, before spending three years fighting the impact of the drug, which led to organ failure.
“The chief surgeon at the hospital promised me he would never prescribe that drug again.
“He said she would be alive if she hadn’t taken it, but I have heard from dozens of Brits and Irish who have been given it,” added Graeme.
It is the third victim of the drug the Olive Press has reported on in under a year.
Sometimes known also as Metamizole, Nolotil is banned in the US, the UK, Ireland and most of Europe, but it is prescribed widely in Spain.
Irishman William ‘Billy’ Smyth was given a five-day course of the drug in February.
But when the 66-year-old returned to a different Spanish doctor to get a renewal in April, tests showed the drug had caused a toxic poisoning in his bone marrow and his white blood cell was dangerously low.
Billy, a keen sportsman, developed sepsis and necrotising fasciitis as a result and required ‘radical surgery’ to remove the affected tissue in an attempt to save his life.
The dad-of-two later died from septic shock – believed to be linked to taking the Nolotil.
Another British expat Hugh Wilcox was prescribed the same medication for mild shoulder pain on the Costa del Sol.
He developed severe head sores and was hospitalised when his white blood cell count plummeted to near zero.
He was so close to death he was planning his own funeral.
The drug seems to mostly affect people of fair skin, from the likes of the UK and Scandinavia, by poisoning their bone marrow and destroying their white blood cells.
While not yet conclusive, research has shown that a gene may make someone more at risk from the extreme side effects.
Despite its lethal capabilities, it is regularly handed out by doctors and dentists in Spain for mild pain such as toothaches, headaches, arthralgia, neuralgia, myositis, mild to moderate visceral pain and high fever.
In the case of Graham Ward, he was told by his dentist that the drug was only dangerous for Scandinavians.
“It was so naive and wrong and made me so angry,” recalls Graeme, “people need to know how dangerous this drug is, it needs to stop being handed out so willingly.
“It’s just criminal.”
Boehringer and Ingelheim, the pharmaceutical giant behind the drug, refused to comment on Nolotil.
The health ministry in Madrid and authorities in the Junta refused to comment despite repeated attempts.
To sign a petition calling for the ban, visit www.change.org/u/748159939