Think again on co-proxamol
Informed consent is the bedrock of the doctor-patient relationship. GPs decide what is wrong with patients, explain this and guide them towards appropriate treatments.
The decision to withdraw co-proxamol deprives GPs and patients of that right to make joint decisions based on the best interests of the patient.
This is just one drug, and the number of patients who will need to continue using it is likely to be small. But the principle at stake is much bigger.
Many GPs want to continue prescribing co-proxamol – not as a drug of first choice but in cases where the alternatives either do not work or have unacceptable side-effects.
Many patients are distressed and angry it is being withdrawn.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has acknowledged some patients do need co-proxamol and says it will still be available – but only on a named-patient basis.
This is not good enough.
When a drug is the only option that works for a patient, that patient understands the balance of benefits and risks and a GP is willing to prescribe, the law must protect that doctor.
Dumping legal responsibility in its entirety on to a GP is no way for the drug regulator to behave.
The MHRA has admitted that co-proxamol has a place in treatment. Now it must be brave enough to reconsider its decision to withdraw the drug's licence.