Heart risk warning over painkiller diclofenac

Pills Diclofenac is used for conditions such as headaches, back pain and arthritis

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People with heart problems have been advised to stop using one of the most commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs in the UK.

The medicines regulator said painkiller diclofenac could significantly increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke for some patients.

The advice has been updated after a European review of the risks.

Millions of people take diclofenac for a range of conditions including headaches, back pain and arthritis.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the drug should not be used by people with serious underlying heart conditions.

People who have suffered heart failure, heart disease or a stroke should stop using it completely.

Smokers and people with high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and diabetes have been advised to use the drug only after consulting their GP or pharmacist.

The MHRA said diclofenac would continue to provide safe and effective pain relief, apart from patients in certain "at risk" groups.

Dr Sarah Branch, deputy director of the MHRA's vigilance and risk management of medicines division, said: "Whilst this is a known risk and warnings have been included in patient and healthcare information for some time, this advice is now being updated."

Six million prescriptions were written for diclofenac last year and the drug is also available over the counter.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I don't think sweeping comments such as 'take it off the market now!' really helps matters.. I do think there is a culture in this country with all medications, to take it when it is not really necessary, placebos and such. An issue that needs conference. However, diclofenac is still an important medication for short term treatment, and should still, and is being used as such.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    People should understand that all drugs have side effects and all of them are closely and continuously monitored. This is a measured response by the MHRA to data that have accumulated slowly over many years. It's not a case of suddenly finding a major problem, or due to anyone covering up data. Use medicines sensibly and don't panic when stories like this happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    But please don't just stop taking the drugs you have been prescribed. Go back to your GP and get it checked. What we are talking about is a risk - and there is an element of that in all medicines. On balance, diclofenac may be the best option for the short term management of an injury, for example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    As above - I was taken off these years ago as pain relief for osteo-arthritis specifically because I had a risk of cardiac problems.

    Surely it's not beyond the wit of the NHS to inform doctors, GPs and Specialists, when specific drug prescribing is unwise ?


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