The Pharmacy and Poisons Board has flagged ‘Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs’ (NSAIDs), specifically Diclofenac for pain management.
Diclofenac is a widely used medicine for relieving pain and inflammation, particularly in painful conditions such as arthritis.
“NSAIDs as a class, if used at high dose and for long periods, are associated with an increased risk of blood clots in the arteries especially in patients with underlying heart or circulatory conditions or with certain cardiovascular risk factors, which in some cases has led to heart attack or stroke,” the board said.
The board says there is a small risk of heart attack or stroke in patients taking systemic diclofenac regularly, especially at high doses (150 mg daily) and for long periods.
“Use of diclofenac is no longer recommended for patients with history of a heart attack or stroke, heart failure, blockages to blood vessels to the heart or brain or have had an operation to clear or bypass such blockages, or circulatory problems that restrict blood flow to your limbs. If you smoke or have other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, your doctor will need to assess if you should use diclofenac and the best way to take it,” the board says.
If you are on long-term diclofenac treatment you will need to have your treatment reviewed to ensure that it is still right for you. You are advised to speak to your prescriber at your next scheduled appointment.
“You should not stop taking your treatment without talking to your healthcare professional. If you have any questions, speak with your healthcare professional. The Board advises the public against self-medication with painkillers, especially diclofenac. Diclofenac, should only be dispensed or used upon prescription by a duly qualified healthcare professional,” the board added.