GPs less willing to take legal risk on co-proxamol
By Nigel Praities
GPs are increasingly unwilling to take the legal risk of prescribing co-proxamol, with the number of scripts halving in six months, a Pulse investigation reveals.
The Government had promised unlicensed co-proxamol would be available on a ‘named patient' basis from GPs, providing they were prepared to take legal responsibility for any adverse events.
But many GPs are refusing to supply patients with co-proxamol because of the legal risk and a seven-fold increase in the cost of the drug.
Figures from Cegedim Strategic Data show GP scripts for co-proxamol have fallen by 50% since its licence was withdrawn by the drug regulator in January because of fears over the risk of overdose. Some 22,000 scripts were written in June.
Papers obtained by Pulse under the Freedom of Information Act from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency reveal many patients are being refused the treatment and may be resorting to extreme measures to obtain co-proxamol.
One letter from the dossier of 200 complaints from patients, GPs and MPs reads: ‘The intention of the DH, that there should be supplies available for this minority of patients, is not being realised. My GP's final advice was "Well, you had better go buy it on the internet."'
Dr Adam Bajkowski, president of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, said GPs were coming under tremendous pressure not to prescribe co-proxamol.
‘It is a shame, because it was a good drug. But any GP aware of the legal and the cost issues is in a very difficult position. The PCTs have made it almost impossible for GPs to prescribe it,' he said.