Experts seek painkiller ban

Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013

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A popular painkiller should be banned worldwide because it raises the risk of heart attack and stroke by almost half, British academics say.

Risks from diclofenac, widely sold as Voltaren, were highest in those who used it regularly, and safer options were available, they said.

Medsafe in New Zealand said it would consider the research, but noted previous reviews had shown its benefits outweighed potential risks.

Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug often prescribed after surgery or to combat arthritic pain when other painkillers are not strong enough.

It has been available in New Zealand for more than 20 years. It is subsidised by state drug-buying agency Pharmac, with 375,000 people being prescribed it in the year ending November 2012. That figure does not include those who buy it over the counter.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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