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Diclofenac: Pharmacy Board Links Popular Painkiller to Heart Attacks, Stroke

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB)  has warned Kenyans against regular use of Diclofenac as a painkiller. 

The drug, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is found in chemists and costs between KSh 5 and KSh 10.

PPB CEO Fred Siyoi says prolonged use of the drug without a description may lead to heart attack or stroke. 

“Use of diclofenac is no longer recommended for patients with a history of heart failure or circulatory problems that restrict blood flow to their limbs,” Siyoi said.  

He said that although its benefits are greater than it’s risks, the drug is associated with an increased risk of blood clots in the arteries.

“There is a small risk of heart attack or stroke in patients taking systematic diclofenac regularly, especially at high doses of 150mg daily and for long periods,” Siyoi added.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) CEO Fred Siyoi PHOTO/COURTESY 

Siyoi said smokers and those who have high blood cholesterol and diabetes should seek a doctor’s prescription before using diclofenac.

“If you are on long term diclofenac treatment, you will need to have your treatment reviewed to ensure that it is still safe for you,” the CEO said.

Diclofenac is used to relieve pain as well as swelling and joint stiffness caused by arthritis. 

Diclofenac tablets and capsules can cause an ulcer in your stomach or gut if you take them for a long time or in big doses.

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There’s also a small risk of heart failure or kidney failure if you take very big doses for a long time. It’s best to take the lowest dose that works for the shortest possible time.

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