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Study Links Voltaren and Neurofen to Strokes

Commonly sold as Voltaren, but available in a number of brands, it is one of a class of drugs all found to increase the risk of stroke, an extensive Danish study found.

Diclofenac, the key ingredient in Voltaren, is as dangerous as the arthritis drug Vioxx, said an international expert. Vioxx was withdrawn in Australia in 2004 because it was found to increase the risk of heart attack.

A spokeswoman from Novartis Australia, which makes Voltaren, said it should be used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest duration of time.

Last financial year almost 656,000 prescriptions for higher strength Voltaren and 246,000 prescriptions of high-dose Ibuprofen were covered under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. The study co-author and senior cardiologist at Gentofte University Hospital, Gunnar Gislason, told the Herald ibuprofen should be prescription-only and diclofenac should be banned.

Ric Day, a professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of NSW and St Vincent's Hospital, said that while the study analysed healthy people it was particularly relevant for people at risk of heart attack and stroke, such as those with diabetes or high blood pressure.
Source: SMH, September 14, 2010

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