Expats affected by lethal Nolotil painkiller urged to tell their stories

Published:  30 Apr at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, USA, UK, Canada, Euro, England
A recent update on the Nolotil scandal shows the campaign against Spanish medics’ use of the lethal painkiller is gathering momentum across Spain as survivors come forward with their experiences.

According to reports, the lives and long-term health of a large number of British tourists and long-stay expats in Spain have been either lost or badly affected due to the use of the lethal painkiller Nolitil, even although the drug has been banned across Europe and America for several decades. The drug, also known as Metamizol, came under scrutiny via an investigation by a medical translator’s publicity about its devastating effects on Britons and Scandinavians who’d been prescribed it for pain relief. Spaniards, it seems, are not affected by the medication, perhaps due to a genetic variation.

Nolotil is banned in the UK, the USA and in almost all EU member states due to its links with life-threatening side effects including sepsis, necrotising fasciitis and agranulocytosis, a rapid, often fatal drop in white blood cells. The original researcher shared her knowledge with a local English language expat-aimed newspaper, spurring Spanish medical authorities to sit up and finally take notice. Since then, her work has been taken seriously and a nationwide investigation is underway, hopefully resulting in the banning of the drug.

The researcher is still requesting those who’ve had or known someone who had negative experiences whilst taking the drug to come forward and share their stories, especially if they’ve lost a family member as a result of the drug’s being prescribed by a Spanish medical practitioner. Many expats have already responded, but few have been prepared to submit their personal details along with their evidence of the drug’s effects. Even those who’ve lost a dear friend or relative or have themselves been badly affected by the side effects seem reluctant to be named, and only on-the-record complaints can be considered as part of an investigation.

One British carer working with patients taking Nolotil said one woman resembled the ‘walking dead’, with five more having suffered seriously detrimental side effects such as constant body-wide itching, dangerously low white blood cell counts and swollen, inflamed lymph glands. The carer advised them and other new patients to stop taking the drug, after which the symptoms disappeared. Later, she wrote to the British Consulate about her concerns, urging awareness of the issue.

Sadly, the alarm call over the drug has come too late for British expat Graeme Ward, whose wife Mary died after being prescribed Nolotil following an operation in Marbella’s Costa del Sol Hospital. A day later, her white cell count dropped dramatically and she was placed on life support, remaining unconscious for four months. After she’d finally come round, she spent the last three years of her life fighting the organ failure caused by the drug. According to her widowed husband, he’d been told by the hospital’s chief surgeon she’d still be alive but for Nolotil.
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