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Common painkiller 'increases stroke risk'

Common painkiller 'increases stroke risk'
13th February 2013

A painkiller used by more than a million people in the UK should be banned because it increases risks of strokes and heart attacks by 40 per cent, academics have warned.

Diclofenac is an anti-inflammatory drug usually prescribed to patients after surgery or if ibuprofen is not strong enough to counter pain caused by arthritis.

Researchers from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry found the drug, which is available over the counter from pharmacies, is linked to a 40 per cent increase in instances of heart attacks and strokes.

This comes after a study published in 2011 suggested diclofenac raised the risk of death from these conditions four-fold.

Dr Patricia McGettigan, who led that investigation, told the Daily Telegraph: "The regulators need to look at medicine like this on the basis that the evidence that it causes harm has been known for years."

Around five million prescriptions are made in Britain for the drug each year, though many people only take it as a one-off. However, it is estimated more than one million people take it regularly, meaning they are at high risk.

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