Lethal painkiller still being marketing in Gibraltar

Published:  20 Aug at 6 PM
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The lethal painkiller Nolotil, exposed by a campaign started in the English-language expat newspaper Olive Press, is still being sold by pharmacies in Gibraltar.

Nolotil, banned in many European countries as well as in the UK, was the subject of a two-year medical investigation by health researcher Cristina Garcia del Campo after stories of deaths resulting from taking the painkiller became big news for expats in Spain. The drug was finally linked to at least 10 fatalities and several near-deaths in the expat community, and is still under investigation by Spanish health authorities.

Although it’s still not banned in Spain, coverage of the research and its results made sure the expat community was fully aware of the dangers. Nolotil is also sold as Metamizole, and is believed to be active in attacking patients’ immune systems by means of depleting the white blood cells responsible for fighting infections. It’s not licensed for prescription in the UK, France, Australia, the USA and a number of other countries but, incredibly, an undercover reporter from the Olive Press was able to purchase it at several pharmacies on the Rock.

The journalist was told the drug was either available or occasionally in stock at three pharmacies, but that it needed a doctor’s prescription. At the same time, another parallel investigation uncovered six pharmacies selling Nolotil, with the investigator able to buy a packet at a cost of £2.50. After getting a report from one anonymous local woman who’d been able to buy the drug without a prescription, the Gibraltar government is now conducting a full investigation into the pharmacies providing the lethal medicine.

Another Gibraltarian said she’d been given the drug even although she told the pharmacist she was already taking strong doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief. Olive Press’s campaign to regulate the drug a year ago resulted in del Campo’s finding over 100 more case studies as well as several expat deaths and many others fighting for their lives as their immune systems began to fail. According to the newspaper, a decision by the government on bringing in new regulations covering distribution and purchase of the drug is imminent.
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