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Gov’t warns Kenyans against self-medicating with Diclofenac painkillers

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The Ministry of Health through the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) has raised an alarm against self-medicating with ‘Diclofenac’ one of the country’s most-used painkillers.
In a statement issued on Friday, PPB noted that the public is abusing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain management and advised on being administered on a prescription basis.

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PPB Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Fred Siyoi warned that there is a small risk of heart attack or stroke in patients taking systemic Diclofenac regularly, especially at high doses of 150 mg.

“The Pharmacy and Poisons Board wishes to draw the attention of the public to the use of ‘Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), specifically Diclofenac for pain management,” reads part of the statement.

The board warned that Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are associated with an increased risk of blood clots, especially in patients with underlying heart conditions or with certain cardiovascular risk factors which could lead to heart attack or stroke.

The medicine is widely used as a pain reliever and as an anti-inflammatory, particularly in conditions such as arthritis.

“Diclofenac is a drug widely used to relieve pain and inflammation, especially in painful conditions such as arthritis. Overall, the benefits of diclofenac outweigh its risks,” PPB warned.

Consequently, the use of the drug is no longer recommended for patients with a history of heart attack or stroke, heart failure, blockages to vessels, or have had an operation to clear or bypass such blockages, or circulatory problems that restrict blood flow to your limbs.

PPB further advised the doctors to weigh the risks before prescribing the drug to people who smoke or have other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

At the same time, those on long-term Diclofenac treatment will have to get their treatment reviewed by a healthcare professional to determine whether the treatment is still right for them.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (the Board) is mandated under the Pharmacy and Poisons Act (Cap 244) to disseminate information on medical products to health professionals and the public to promote their rational use.

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