Pain killers which are commonly used for a number of painful complaints, have been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. This has lead to an order by the Commission on Human Medicines whereby these drugs will have to carry a warning along with the information put on them by the manufacturers.
Doctors are being informed of the small but increased risk in long term treatment with high doses of these drugs. These are used very commonly for conditions of chronic pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and are known as Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID).
Studies have shown that high doses(around 2400 mg) of these drugs increase the risk of heart attack, and an investigation into NSAIDs was launched last month by the European Medicines Agency.
Diclofenac, etodolac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketoprofen, ketorolac, meloxicam, nabumetone, naproxen, and nimesulide are the NSAIDS which have been reviewed. Low dose (400mg) ibuprofen which is an OTC drug is considered safe and will not have to include the cautionary information.
The director for vigilance and risk management, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, Dr. June Raine, said that the benefits of the drugs are still considered to outweigh the risks, and that it was not required that patients stop their medications if they felt well. However it is advisable to keep the treatment as low dose and short term as possible.