DR ELLIE CANNON: Why can’t I have my painkillers?

DR ELLIE CANNON: Why can’t I have my painkillers?

I’ve been taking the painkiller co-proxamol for many years, for arthritis pain. I tend just to take it at night, and find I wake up feeling less stiff and sore.

But a few months back, my GP told me I couldn’t have it any more. I’ve tried other pills but paracetamol and ibuprofen don’t really do much, and those with codeine make me constipated.

Surely I should be allowed the drug, if it’s helping me and not causing any harm?

Co-proxamol is a combination painkiller that contains the drugs paracetamol and dextropropoxyphene. It was widely prescribed both by GPs and pain clinics as a step up from the simple painkillers of paracetamol and ibuprofen, but its licence was withdrawn in 2005

Co-proxamol is a combination painkiller that contains the drugs paracetamol and dextropropoxyphene.

It was widely prescribed both by GPs and pain clinics as a step up from the simple painkillers of paracetamol and ibuprofen.

But its licence was withdrawn in 2005 following concerns about safety. The dextropropoxyphene has been shown to have serious effects on the heart’s electrical activity, and co-proxamol became associated with suicides.

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Overdoses do not only occur intentionally – they can also happen when people accidentally take too many tablets.

But patients who cannot get relief with any other medication can apply via their GP to have what is known as off-licence use of the medication on a named-patient basis.

Certain drug companies are still making and supplying the medication in this way, and you should discuss supply with a pharmacist.

I was prescribed statins by my GP, but then went to see a cardiologist who said I didn’t need them. My GP said I shouldn’t stop. I’m confused.

Statins lower cholesterol and are prescribed to an individual to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke, and the chances of dying from those conditions. Vast amounts of trial data show that anyone who has a risk of over ten per cent of cardiovascular disease can benefit from a statin. They may well be in good health – and there is a polarised debate about medicating healthy people.


Email [email protected] or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT. 

Dr Ellie can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal replies. 

If you have a health concern, always consult your own GP.  

We calculate the risk facing people who do not already have a cardiovascular disease using a computer program called Qrisk3. This takes into account factors including age, blood pressure, ethnicity, family history as well as other conditions and medication.

If that risk is more than ten per cent, a statin will probably be offered.

A cardiologist may feel if a patient has just nudged into the ten per cent-plus risk category because of their age, and has no other major risk factors, that making a few dietary tweaks and exercising more will reduce the risk, making medication unnecessary. But a patient could see ten or 100 doctors and keep getting conflicting opinions.

The important thing is to get fully informed about your risk and it will be your decision whether or not to take statins.

A croaky voice is probably the least of her problems right now… but I have more bad news for the Prime Minister, who is clearly suffering with laryngitis: there is no treatment. The only way to remedy the problem is to stop talking.

Laryngitis – an inflamed voicebox – usually comes on suddenly due to a cold-type virus or as a result of using your voice too much – so all those speeches and negotiations won’t have helped the PM. Recovery involves speaking as little as possible so if it’s not rested, she may find she loses her voice altogether.

We’re all organ donors now… and it’s thanks to Max and Keira 

With all that was going on last week, you’re forgiven if you missed the medical-legal milestone that was the passing of Max And Keira’s Law. 

Named after the children who donated and received a heart for a life-saving transplant in 2017, the law brings in presumed consent for organ donation in England. 

Currently there is a voluntary opt-in scheme. The new law means that now all adults’ organs can be used for transplant after death unless the person has specifically opted out. 

But whatever your views are on organ donation, tell your family: if they object when the time comes, organs won’t be taken. 

Keira Ball, nine, was killed in a tragic car crash, but her organs went onto save the life of ten-year-old Max Johnson who was awaiting a transplant

Max Johnson, pictured with his father Joe, received the gift of life when he had a heart transplant from a donation following Kiera’s tragic accident 



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