The Spanish Health Department has asked health professionals to restrict the prescription and use of drugs containing metamizol, a component of painkillers like the frequently-prescribed Nolotil, because its known potential for adverse reactions, especially agranulocytosis, is heightened in people of certain genetic groups like the British. Agranulocytosis, an acute reduction in white blood cell count, is perhaps the most serious of the range of dangers presented to such groups by the drug, and after seeing a rise in reactions attributed to the doubling of use in the past decade, Sanidad’s Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios (Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products) has advised doctors and pharmacists to be aware of the risks and restrict prescribing the drug, especially to tourists and the elderly, and particularly to British patients.
AEMPS says that not everyone has a reaction, let alone the particularly dangerous ones, which are considered to occur only to a small percentage of patients, but obviously the risks are too great to take at all. As such, any British residents or visitors here should be aware of the situation in case they are mistakenly or unwittingly prescribed the drug, which despite reports has not actually been “banned”. The key words British patients need to be aware of are the name of the usually-prescribed painkiller, Nolotil, and its principal active ingredient, metamizol. Anyone who has been supplied these could have been given them in error, ignorance or by mistake, so do check all painkiller tablet labels to ensure they don’t bear either of these words.