14 Sep 2010

Risks of painkillers nothing new, says ministry

6:32 pm on 14 September 2010

The Ministry of Health says a study linking two popular painkillers to an increased risk of stroke simply confirms what it already knew.

The Danish study looked at non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs Voltaren, which contains Diclofenac, and Ibuprofen.

A senior adviser at the ministry says increased risk of cardiovascular complications, among other risks, was already known.

Susan Kenyon says Medsafe advises using the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time, as risk may increase with the dose or duration of use.

Dr Kenyon says since 1965 the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring has had 885 reports of suspected adverse reactions to Diclofenac and 283 to Ibuprofen.

Four related to strokes, but more to heart attacks and changes in blood pressure.

In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration says it is closely monitoring reports of adverse reactions to the painkillers.

A spokesperson says it has received eight reports of heart attacks and one of angina in patients taking Diclofenac, but no reported cases in patients taking Ibuprofen.

Australian doctors say there is no reason for the painkillers to be banned.