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Doctors warned on painkillers

Monday July 1st, 2013

Doctors have been issued new guidance about the use of painkillers following a series of European reviews.

One review has led to doctors being told to restrict the prescribing of the drug codeine to children because of the risk of it causing serious breathing problems.

New guidance says it should not be given to children under 12 - and should only be given to older children to treat acute, moderate pain.

But it should not be given to any children or teenagers who undergo tonsil or adenoid removal, regulators say. The drug has been linked to several deaths from respiratory depression <!poor breathing> following the operation.

The European guidance has been backed by the UK Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency.

Dr Sarah Branch, of the agency, said: "This is important new advice for the use of codeine for pain relief in children.

"Whilst codeine is not commonly used in children, the evidence is clear that there is risk of side effects in children, and other painkillers should be used whenever possible."

* Doctors have also been told to restrict the use of the pain relief drug diclofenac, following another European review.

The European Medicines Agency concluded the drug should not be given to patients with serious underlying heart conditions, including a history of stroke or circulatory problems.

The move was backed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which had originally asked for the review.

It said doctors should be cautious about giving the drug to patients with other risk factors.

The review found that for every 1,000 patients at risk who took the drug, an additional three would suffer heart attacks.

Dr Sarah Branch, of the agency, 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.

"Those with underlying heart conditions currently taking diclofenac should speak to their GP or pharmacist at their next routine visit to consider an alternative pain relief treatment.

"Patients with certain cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, diabetes and smoking should only use diclofenac after careful consideration with their GP or pharmacist."

Tags: Child Health | Europe | NHS | Pain Relief | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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