Diclofenac is the most commonly used painkiller in 15 countries despite the risks of heart problems

Diclofenac tabletsResearchers have found the diclofenac is the most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in the 15 countries.

This research has been published online in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Diclofenac is a drug belonging to the same class as that of aspirin i.e. NSAID. It is taken to decrease the inflammation and pain.

Researchers have found that diclofenac is the most commonly used NSAID in 15 countries. Researchers have noted that it has the same tendency to cause heart attacks and strokes as that of Vioxx (rofecoxib), which was banned in 2004, but still it is included in the essential medicines list of 74 countries. They wrote that the drug should be removed from the national essential medicines list.

Researchers have found that naproxen, an alternative that is much safer than diclofenac, is mentioned in the essential medicines’ list of only 27 countries. Moreover, the sales or prescription of the diclofenac (in the case of England and Canada) were three times higher than that of naproxen in 2011.

Patricia McGettigan from Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, stated, “Diclofenac has no advantage in terms of gastrointestinal safety and it has a clear cardiovascular disadvantage.” She added, “Because it’s been around for so long people have become familiar with it and almost don’t believe it could have a side effect like this.”

David Henry from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the University of Toronto, Canada, added, “Given the availability of safer alternatives, diclofenac should be de-listed from national essential medicines lists.

McGettigan concluded, “There are strong arguments to revoke its marketing authorisations globally.”

Among the other most commonly recommended NSIADS were, aspirin (88 countries), ibuprofen (90 countries), diclofenac (74 countries), indometacin (56 countries), and naproxen (27 countries).

Reference:
McGettigan, P., & Henry, D. (2013). Use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs That Elevate Cardiovascular Risk: An Examination of Sales and Essential Medicines Lists in Low-, Middle-, and High-Income Countries PLoS Medicine, 10 (2) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001388

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