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Euro Regulators Warn of Risks Associated with Diclofenac

Filed June 17th, 2013 Joshua Sophy

Health officials in Europe are warning physicians about prescribing the common painkiller drug diclofenac because it may carry heart attack risks to certain patients.

According to a Reuters report, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said that patients who have underlying conditions such as heart or circulatory problems should re-consider taking diclofenac, especially at high doses. Taking the drug could exacerbate those preexisting conditions. The agency said that those with medical conditions, such as having suffered a previous heart attack, stroke, heart failure or heart disease, or circulatory diseases, should not take high doses of the painkiller to avoid the heightened risks.

The EMA warning has been released on the heels of the publication of a study which examined the heart and circulatory risks associated with two common painkiller drugs, ibuprofen and diclofenac. That study showed that taking these two drugs, in the class of painkillers known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), increase a person’s risk of suffering a “major vascular event,” according to the Reuters report.

The report notes that these added risks of taking NSAID painkillers puts them on par with another class of prescription pain drugs, known as COX-2 inhibitors. Fatal heart attack risks led to the removal of one COX-2 inhibitor drug, Vioxx, from the market several years ago.

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