Co-Proxamol Withdrawal Results in Fewer Suicides

And no increase seen in suicides or accidental deaths from other painkillers

FRIDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- There was a significant reduction in the number of accidental poisonings and suicides when the drug co-proxamol was withdrawn in 2005, and there has been no subsequent increase in the number of deaths involving other painkillers, according to a study published online on June 18 in BMJ.

Keith Hawton, M.D., of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed prescribing data from England and Wales as well as mortality data from the Office of National Statistics from 1998 to 2007 to assess deaths from drug poisoning involving single analgesics.

From 2005 to 2007, there was a 59 percent drop in co-proxamol prescriptions and an increase in prescriptions for other analgesics such as co-codamol, paracetamol, co-dydramol and codeine, the investigators found. While there were an estimated 295 fewer suicides and 349 fewer deaths due to accidental poisoning attributed to co-proxamol overdose, there was no evidence of an increase in deaths due to other analgesics, the investigators discovered.

"The announcement of the withdrawal of co-proxamol in the U.K. has had a substantial effect on prescribing and on deaths from poisoning in England and Wales, particularly suicides," the authors write. "This evidence, along with a similar finding for Scotland, suggests that the U.K. initiative has been an effective measure."

Two authors presented evidence to the committee that evaluated co-proxamol.

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