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GPs face legal action for not monitoring Zyban scripts

A leading law firm has warned GPs they could face litigation over inappropriate prescribing of Zyban.

More than 40 people who claim their health has been damaged or a relative has died as a result of taking Zyban (bupropion) have joined a multi-group action against GPs and manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline.

The number of people joining the action has 'steadily grown' and the claims relate to side-effects including seizures, depression, strokes and heart attacks as well as some deaths.

London-based law firm Alexander Harris, which is leading the action, said the principal claims were against the manufacturer but a

spokeswoman added: 'Investigations have progressed. There is a possibility that side actions may be pursued against GPs for inappropriate prescription.

'There are still a number of issues that need to be clarified. We are looking at the guidance given to prescribers, the concerns over interactions with other drugs and the response to development of side-effects.'

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence issued guidance on prescribing Zyban last year which warned of

the risk of seizures and drug


Since Zyban was launched in the UK in 2000 there have been 8,069 Yellow Card reports including 66 deaths, according to the Department of Health. Last year there were 131,000 prescriptions for Zyban issued in England.

Dr Nicholas Norwell, medicolegal adviser at the Medical Defence Union, advised GPs prescribing Zyban to ensure they 'monitor the patient by making another appointment and keep an accurate, contemporaneous record'.

He added: 'At the end of

the day the GP must be prepared to justify their decision.'

A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline said the company was not aware of the group action, adding the drug was widely used and had a 'well-

established' safety profile.

Dr Tim Coleman, senior lecturer in general practice at the University of Nottingham and a GP in the city, told GPs to stick to NICE guidance and check the BNF for updates on contraindications and cautions.

He added: 'To prove in an individual case that Zyban caused a heart attack when they've been smoking for several years would be very difficult to prove if not impossible.'

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