‘It was traumatising having my family say their goodbyes' - Man's 'soul-destroying' experience after taking 'deadly' painkiller
A man was left fighting for his life after being prescribed a "deadly" painkiller that has killed Irish and British people.
David Parkinson (52), from Manchester, was living in Spain in 2002 with his brother when he was prescribed the killer drug, Nolotil.
He tells his story just months after the death of an Irishman from Mullingar after he was prescribed the painkiller.
William 'Billy' Smyth (66) from Mullingar was visiting Torrevieja, Spain in February when he was prescribed Nolotil from a Spanish GP, which he took for five days.
In April of this year, Billy returned to another GP in Spain to get a renewal for his normal medications and told the doctor he couldn’t shake cold-like symptoms.
“He couldn’t shake a common cold and the sore throat he had," Billy's son Derek Smyth told Independent.ie.
"My father remained in a coma following surgery... on April 17 my father died from septic shock due to the complications developed from taking Nolotil."
Now, David tells Independent.ie he was hospitalised in Spain after a car accident in 2002 and was prescribed Nolotil for pain relief.
He said he first noticed something was wrong when he began to spot sores and blisters on his body.
“Over the next month I became very ill and I was becoming worse and worse until eventually I collapsed in my bathroom and my brother took me straight to see a doctor.
“The doctor told my brother to get me straight to hospital. He said don’t stop at lights, don’t stop for police, just get straight to the hospital now.”
The Nolotil drug had caused a toxic poisoning in his bone marrow, causing him to stop producing white blood cells, which are used to fight infection.
David said when he arrived at the hospital there was a team of doctors waiting for him and they rushed him straight up to the isolation unit.
“I lost over seven stone and was diagnosed with septicaemia, pneumonia and a very low white blood cell count.”
Within 10 days, the Spanish hospital told David his family should come over to say their goodbyes.
“They said I had similar symptoms to multiple myeloma which is a form of cancer. My family were really worried and they flew over to be with me. The hospital said there wasn’t much more they could do.
“It was traumatising having my family huddled around my bed saying their goodbyes. It was soul destroying.
“Previously my family had to stand outside the glass window and write notes to me because my immune system was so weak. But all of a sudden they were allowed into my room without masks or gowns.
"The doctors said there was nothing else that could be done for me."
David’s family organised a private jet costing £15,000 (€17,700) to fly him home to Manchester.
“The next thing the doctors in Spain were going to do was send me to a bigger Spanish hospital for cancer treatment. That definitely would have killed me.”
David said he “shockingly” began to recover in hospital in Manchester.
“If I hadn’t gone home to Manchester I would have died.
“My illness was all down to the drug. It was the only medication I was prescribed and after researching it I saw that it had an effect on British and Irish people and was banned in several countries.”
It took David a year to fully recover, after suffering from daily epileptic fits and diseases.
“My temperature was so high that the doctors would cover me in ice. It was very scary and traumatic.”
He explained he was “resentful” that he was prescribed the drug and said it should be banned all together.
“I was given no warning about the drug," he said.
"I resent the fact that the drug is dangerous and it was given to me. People aren’t aware of the side effects. It has killed Irish and British people and it almost killed me too, yet the Spanish are still giving it out.”
David described the experience as “very traumatic” for him and his family, who are still left with the costs of flying him home.
“The drug is banned in certain countries for a reason. I was very lucky. I was seconds away from death and unfortunately other people haven’t made it.”
The Nolotil drug is a brand name for Metamizole.
Metamizole is a anti-inflammatory drug used for the treatment of mild pain such as toothaches, headaches, arthralgia, neuralgia, myositis, mild to moderate visceral pain, and high fever.
While the drug is available in Spain, it’s banned in Ireland, the UK, US, Australia and other EU countries.
A spokesperson for the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) told Independent.ie that Nolotil (Metamizole) has never been authorised for use in Ireland.
"In addition to Spain, metamizole has been authorised and marketed under various trade names in some other EU member states including Italy, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal, Luxembourg, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
"Metamizole is authorised in the above countries for the treatment of moderate or severe acute pain and high fever not responding to general therapeutic measures.
"It is known to be associated with a risk of blood disorders, including agranulocytosis (low white cell count)."