1 Nov, 2023 @ 13:15
1 min read

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Deadly’ painkiller Nolotil is STILL being given to Brits in Spain despite restrictions being brought in five years ago


A LETHAL painkiller is STILL being given to northern Europeans five years after it was banned, the Olive Press can reveal. 

It comes after an Irish reader contacted us to sound the alarm after he was given the potentially deadly drug while receiving treatment at HCB Hospital in Denia, Alicante. 

Nolotil, also known as Metamizol, is the most common painkiller in Spain and is often marketed as an alternative to Ibuprofen or Paracetmol.

But the drug has been linked to several deaths and serious illnesses among expats and tourists visiting Spain. 

Though usually harmless, Nolotil can affect Northern Europeans with fair complexions and is banned in the UK, Ireland and Sweden. 

In October 2018, the drug was banned for sale without a prescription to British people visiting Spain following a months’ long campaign by this newspaper and tireless medical campaigner Cristina Garcia del Campo. 

A woman holding two boxes of Nolotil medication
Cristina Garcia del Campo has been campaigning for more restrictions.

Recommendations were also issued advising medical staff to avoid giving the drug to patients in urgent care and to carry out follow up blood tests if the drug is given for seven days or more. 

The directive note, issued by the Spanish Medicine Agency (AEMPS), recommended staff monitor patients given the drug to check for potentially deadly side effects like low white blood cell count and sepsis.  

However Cristina, founder of the Affected by Pharmaceuticals Association, says the guidelines are ‘not strong enough’.

“It’s worrying because this is something that can kill you, it has killed so many people,” she told the Olive Press this week. 

Nolotil is Spain’s go-to painkiller.

Now, Cristina is launching a lawsuit against the Ministry of Health after she claims doctors are still not following the guidelines and patients are being given the drug ‘against their will’. 

A spokesperson for the hospital told the Olive Press: “HCB Hospitals follows the recommendations of the AEMPS, and particularly those for the foreign population, we are very aware of the recommendation not to prescribe Nolotil to foreign patients.”

However, she pointed out they are ‘able to prescribe’ the drug for expat outpatients if they are carefully monitored.

When asked why the Irish patient in question ‘hadn’t been monitored due to returning to his home country’, she insisted she was unable to due to confidentiality reasons.


Yzabelle Bostyn

After spending much of her childhood in Andalucia and adulthood between Barcelona and Latin America, Yzabelle has settled in the Costa del Sol to put her NCTJ & Journalism Masters to good use. She is particularly interested in travel, vegan food and has been leading the Olive Press Nolotil campaign. Have a story? email [email protected]

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