Common painkiller prescribed to MILLIONS increases risk of a stroke1 min read

  • Taking the drug diclofenac also raises the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding

  • Diclofenac was banned over-the-counter in the UK due to heart concerns

  • It can still be bought from pharmacies in its gel form, such as Voltaren

A common painkiller that is prescribed to millions in the UK may increase a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by 50 per cent, research suggests.

A study of more than 6.3 million adults found that diclofenac, which is prescribed under the brand names Motifene and Diclomax among others, also puts patients at a higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding compared to other painkillers.

Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is approved for the relief of gout, severe allergic conjunctivitis, pain post surgery and arthritis in the UK.

Heart concerns caused British regulators to ban tablet forms of the drug from being sold over-the-counter in 2015. It can still be bought from pharmacies in its gel form, such as Voltaren, to relieve pain and inflammation.

On the back of the study’s findings, published in the British Medical Journal, the Danish researchers are calling from the drug’s UK ban to be expanded worldwide.

The scientists, from Aarhus University Hospital, said: ‘It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and reduce its use.

‘Dicofenac should not be available over the counter and when prescribed should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks.’

The scientists analysed national registry data for millions of Danish adults.

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