Doses of trouble

India continues to use banned liver damaging drug

Published: Friday 15 November 2002

Finland has recently banned the widely used anti-fever drug Nimesulide, as its indiscriminate use has been implicated for damaging the liver. Almost 109 cases of adverse reactions were reported in the country within a span of five years. Sixty-six of these were related to liver toxicity. However, in India the drug continues to be used on a large-scale, with its annual sale amounting to Rs 200 crore.

However, now the Union ministry of health and family welfare is reviewing the safety of the drug. "The final decision will be taken by the end of this year after reviewing available data and expert opinion," says Ashwini Kumar, drug controller general of India. However many experts are sceptical. "As there is gross underreporting in our country, the decision could be biased," says Ajay Gambhir, secretary of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, New Delhi. Moreover, being ignorant about its adverse effect, many people take the medicine without a doctor's prescription. "The drug manufacturers or the government do not provide information about the drug even to the doctors. This is a must considering the consumers' behaviour," says Harish K Pende from the Lady Harding Medical College, New Delhi.

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