Novartis painkiller ordered out

Published: Friday 29 February 2008

Philippines recently ordered Novartis to pull out its anti-arthritis painkiller from the country. It is feared that the drug lumiracoxib, also sold as prexige, causes liver damage. The Bureau of Food and Drugs, the health regulators in the country, said the risks were greater than the benefits and cited reports of liver-damage cases in other countries.

The European Union had approved the drug's use as 100 mg once-a-day dose for orthopaedic pain in October 2006. But uk and Germany asked Novartis to recall the drug in November last year after urgent safety restriction was initiated in Europe in August 2007. This was after the drug was withdrawn in Australia. Australia ordered a recall after it received eight reports of serious hepatic adverse reactions associated with lumiracoxib, including two deaths and two patients requiring liver transplants. New Zealand and Canada also suspended sale of the drug last year.

The painkiller, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is used to treat of osteoarthritis and dysmenorrhia (painful menstruation). The drug is also used for dental and orthopaedic surgery.

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