28 Nov, 2023 @ 15:46
2 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Nolotil campaigners are suing the Spanish government for ‘failing to properly regulate painkiller’ suspected of causing 40 deaths among Brits and northern Europeans

A PATIENT advocate group has filed a lawsuit against the Spanish Ministry of Health for failing to protect people against the potentially life-threatening effects of Nolotil.

The Association of Drug Affected Patients (ADAF), led by campaigner Cristina del Campo, is suing the Spanish Ministry of Health and the Spanish Agency for Medicine and Health Products (AEMPS). 

The case, handled by Francisco Almodovar, was filed on Monday, November 14. 

It claims the directive issued by the Spanish government in 2018 preventing the sale of the drug to Northern Europeans without prescription is not being followed. 

The ADAF also claims that authorities have not done enough to protect patients against the dangerous effects of Nolotil, which can include sepsis, amputations and organ failure. 

Nolotil is sold under many brand names.

The campaign group has identified 350 suspected cases of agranulocytosis (low white blood cell count) between 1996 and 2023 as a result of the drug. 

The cases include 170 Britons living in or visiting Spain. 

They are also investigating 40 deaths which they believe to be linked to the infamous drug. 

Del Campo told The Olive Press: “We’re not looking for money or damages. I want to make them stop giving Nolotil to British people. 

“I want them to revise and modify regulations and investigate cases properly. 

“They need to act because it keeps being given without a prescription. People’s lives are at stake.” 

Campaigner Cristina del Campo with Nolotil packets.

The ADAF is calling on the Spanish Ministry of Health to ban giving the drug to citizens where Nolotil is banned in their home country. 

They also demand new analysis of the risk of agranulocytosis and a revision of the Nolotil information sheet given to medical professionals. 

Nolotil, also known as metamizole, is a popular painkiller in Spain. 

Although unconfirmed by scientific study, the drug seems to lead to dangerous complications, including reduced white blood cell count, in people of Northern European descent. 

A 2018 report from the European Medicines Agency showed a “potential to induce agranulocytosis may be associated with the genetic characteristics of certain populations”.

As a result, the painkiller is banned in some 30 countries including Britain, Australia and the US. 

British expat Patrick Clancy was left ‘traumatised’ by his experience with the drug. 

Patrick Clancy was in hospital for six weeks after taking Nolotil.

After going into hospital for a routine shoulder operation, the then 74-year-old was put into an induced coma and left six weeks later, unable to walk or eat. 

The retired oil worker for Surrey fought kidney failure and septic shock after taking Nolotil for only a few days. 

He told The Olive Press: “A doctor told me Nolotil is like a nuclear bomb going off in the body. Everytime I go to the hospital they say I’m alright, but I’m just not the same person anymore. It’s a very, very heavy burden.” 

The expat’s case is believed to have inspired the 2018 regulations, but Patrick claims they’re not enough. He said: “From my point of view, the question is what is a life worth? The problem is that it is a very good painkiller and it must be cheap because they dish them out like smarties.

“Something needs to be done because people are still being affected. Others will suffer because they are turning a blind eye.”


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 yzabelle@theolivepress.es

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