I could smell rotting… I didn’t realise it was my dead flesh: Horrifying consequences of ‘killer painkiller’ are revealed by victims – including amputations and life-changing wounds – as Spanish doctors continue to use drug on tourists
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Expats have revealed the horrifying side effects and life-changing injuries they have suffered after being given a drug dubbed the ‘killer painkiller’, which is widely used by Spanish doctors.

A British woman who lived in Spain has told how she had to have part of her feet and fingers amputated after she went into septic shock and her skin began to ‘rot’ – with doctors linking her symptoms to Nolotil. 

Another victim in her 60s has also told how she suffered ‘terrible’ side effects which made her life ‘horrible’ after she was given Nolotil to help alleviate pain from shoulder surgery. 

Nolotil, which is a brand name for metamizole, is banned in the UK and more than 40 countries worldwide, but is popular with doctors in Spain – many of whom work by the phrase ‘Nolotil if pain’.

It can cause a condition known as agranulocytosis, which wipes out white blood cells, increasing the risk of sepsis and even triggering organ failure and other horrific complications.

An Irish expat living in Spain shared pictures of her wounds after contracting Necrotizing Fasciitis

An Irish expat living in Spain shared pictures of her wounds after contracting Necrotizing Fasciitis

A 62-year-old British woman who was living in Spain has told how she had to have her fingers amputated after she went into septic shock

A 62-year-old British woman who was living in Spain has told how she had to have her fingers amputated after she went into septic shock

One British expat had to have part of her feet amputated after her skin began to 'rot'

One British expat had to have part of her feet amputated after her skin began to ‘rot’

Dozens of British tourists and ex-pats in Spain have come forward with horrific side effects in recent years, and campaigners have said the drug can be deadly.

Anti-Nolotil campaigner Cristina Garcia del Campo said she knows of almost 40 Britons who have died after being given the drug since 2016, adding that the real number could be far higher. 

A spotlight was shone on the dangers of the drug last month with the death of British dad Mark Brooks, who died just four days after being prescribed Nolotil for shoulder pain.

Other expats have come close to death after being given the prescription-only painkiller.

An Irishwoman living in Malaga described how she almost lost her life after taking Nolotil ‘as directed by doctors’ for shoulder pain.

The 69-year-old was diagnosed with agranulocytosis due to metamizole a jaw infection due to Neutropenia – a lack of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells – and Necrotizing Fasciitis, known as the ‘flesh-eating disease’. 

She had to undergo four operations on her neck to remove the necrotic tissue, as well as some glands and muscle, and said she was left ‘disfigured with a huge ugly scar on my neck’.

The expat said she had to undergo four operations on her neck to remove necrotic tissue

The expat said she had to undergo four operations on her neck to remove necrotic tissue

The Irish patient said she was left 'disfigured with a huge ugly scar on my neck'

The Irish patient said she was left ‘disfigured with a huge ugly scar on my neck’

‘I now look and feel like a wreck and it will take me a very long time to recover, but I will never be the same again,’ she said.

‘I have a long list of medical and emotional issues after this horrible experience which is not yet over. 

‘My life is now horrible, no quality and constant pain, I don’t recognize myself in the mirror anymore!’

The woman, who remains in Spain, said she has suffered PTSD from the experience and is still facing health issues years later. 

A British woman, who is now in her 70s and has asked not to be named, said she was given the drug after going to a health clinic in Spain for kidney stones. 

She said she took just three tablets before becoming gravely ill, struggling to speak and suffering from delirium, and was rushed to hospital. 

Del Campo says she has presented the dozens of cases she gathered to health authorities

Del Campo says she has presented the dozens of cases she gathered to health authorities

Mark Brooks, a father-of-one from Derbyshire, is thought to be the latest victim of the drug. Pictured here with his four-year-old daughter Aurora

Mark Brooks, a father-of-one from Derbyshire, is thought to be the latest victim of the drug. Pictured here with his four-year-old daughter Aurora

Doctors realised that she was suffering from septic shock ‘due to agranulocytosis induced by metamizole, with serious complications’, as stated in her medical reports.

The patient was put in intensive care with sepsis and got gangrene, with her hands, arms, feet, nose and ears and all turning black.

She thought that cloths in the hospital were dirty, before she realised that it was her skin that was giving off an unpleasant smell as it ‘rotted’.

She had to have part of her feet and a few fingers amputated, and came out of hospital unable to walk and weighing just 43 kg.

Ms Del Campo says there has been little change since recommendations were made in 2018

Ms Del Campo says there has been little change since recommendations were made in 2018

She never got back into work since her ordeal in 2013, and is now disabled, with the nightmare side effects continuing to impact her to this day.

She said that doctors described her condition as a ‘catastrophic adverse reaction to Nolotil’.

Spanish medics were told by the country’s regulators to avoid prescribing the drug to British tourists since 2018, but Ms Del Campo says there has been little change since these recommendations were made.

This guidance emerged after an unpublished study found Britons have ’80 to 120 times higher’ chance of suffering agranulocytosis compared to Spanish patients.

A spokesperson for Boehringer Ingelheim, the manufacturer that makes Nolotil, said in a statement: ‘We take patient safety and public health seriously and closely cooperate with the regulators on product safety-related topics.

‘We are of the opinion that current approved prescribing information adequately addresses current knowledge about identified risks.’



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