Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Side Effect of David Kelly's Overdose

My mother has been taking a pill called Coproxamol for eighteen years. It relieves the aches and pains she suffers as a result of arthritis and various hip and knee joint replacements. Indeed, she reckons it has kept her going. This pill has now been banned by the NHS. She says it happened after David Kelly was found dead as a result of a Coproxamol overdose. There's no other pill which has the same effect, she says, so she now faces a life of increasing pain and stress. Nice, eh?


Cranmer said...


His Grace very occasionally has to resort to this drug, and has done so for the best part of a decade. It is the only thing which alleviates the dreadful pain of his migraines. He has not heard of a 'ban'; indeed, he is due for a repeat prescription. If the NHS has indeed withdrawn it, he will have to resort to an internet pharmacy...

Ian Thorpe said...

How strange that co - proxamol (which I occasionally took until it was banned) produces symptoms consistent with having been murdered and then positioned to make the death look like suicide.

Co-Proxamol was the only pain killer that worked for me because few others are effective against the kind of pain experienced after stroke paralysis. Being articulate and bolshie I yelled about it and was told "it was removed because the maximum dose is close to the fatal dose.
So because a few people who OD'd on it (probably by design) the PC Police decree that we all might be too stupid to follow simple instructions.

Anonymous said...

Just tell her to avoid, when walking in the countryside, strange pairs of men carrying strips of strong polythene sheeting!

She should live a long and content life.

Anonymous said...

I took dihydrocodeine and paracetamol last year while recovering from an operation. It was MORE effective than co-proxamol I found.

Diclofenac is also good as you can take it in combination with paracetamol.

Our best wishes to your mother.

scotch said...

Iain, that is a new low in headlines.
I'm sorry about your mum, but this ain't news.
Initial announcement of withdrawal, January 2005:
Further details from NHS, regarding its withdrawal, December 2005:

Cranmer said...

2005? Then announcements of withdrawal were premature. His Grace has certainly obtained the pills over the past year.

And it is kind of an anonymouse to inform us that dihydrocodeine and paracetamol worked for him/her/it. Different analgesics evidently work for different people in different ways. Coproxamol is he only one which has ever worked for His Grace. And he has tried many, and endured very severe pain indeed...

simon said...

Another effect of Dr Kelly's 'overdose' was to raise the scales from my eyes and show that Blair was/is in-fact a l***g bas***d.

Anonymous said...

How low can you go Iain?

Even the timing has nothing to do with David Kelly.

Voyager said...



I thought this had totally gone for good, but I have seen a patient today that is still using their own supply.

Anyone know what the actual situation is? is it totally withdrawn, or just discouraged, etc?

Coproxamol is still available, as it is still in production and used elswhere.

It is not available for prescription on th NHS.

(I suppose it may be available by private prescription)

I've seen a couple of patients that managed to 'stock-pile' years worth of coprox before it was removed from the NHS formulary.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Diclofenac is also good as you can take it in combination with paracetamol.

June 16, 2007 5:56 PM

I agree, I took this combination for muscle pain so severe that I genuinely thought I was having a heart attack.

Of course, not to be taken without consultation with your Mother's GP first. I am not sure if there are side effects from interactions between the drugs. I am not a doctor either - well not of medicine anyway.

Anonymous said...

oi Bishop! less of the patronising comments. What I was trying to point out is that Coproxamol and a codeine/paracetamol combination is virtually the same thing. In fact, there is probably a stronger dose of Opiate in the latter.

Robert said...

Suicide, joke of the week.

tapestry said...

you can buy drugs on the internet from all over the world. try the philippines - english speaking and many generic versions on sale there. go outside the eu if you want an less regulated drug environment and lower prices.

ezra said...

Has she tried wacky baccy?

Scary Biscuits said...

The black market. Invented to get round idiotic governments.

Colin D said...

Please convey my regards & good wishes to your mother, Iain. She has my deepest sympathy on this matter. Yet another case of over-reaction from this harmful administration, something that your friends and acquaintances can rectify when they regain power.

as an aside our esteemed one, is campaigning to have a road amended as a child was killed a short while ago. A police spokesperson is reported as saying, " the road was not a contributory factor is this tragic incident".

Tim Hodge said...

Cannabis is even more effective but for some reason you're opposed to it. Have the decency to make your mother some hash brownies and make a decision based on the results rather than this "it's illegal so it must be bad" nonsense. It's that or, as you say, your mother faces the rest of her life in pain. Something to think about, eh?

The Hitch said...

Maybe if ma Dale were to effect a scottish accent she may get the medication she requires?

That sucks big time , when one of my grandmothers was dying her spine had collapsed she was in agony , her doctor refused to prescribe more morphine to this 84 year old lady "in case she becomes addicted" he is very lucky that at that time I was "estranged" from that side of the family.
AS people have suggested get online , but not to Asia.

The Hitch said...

nurofen plus works for me when i get gout , it is also very hard to OD on so I alwats up the dose and it works a treat

voltigeur said...

As I'm sure David Kelly would have attested to force fed Co-proxamal is highly dangerous.

Voyager said...




dizzy said...

Blimey, I didn;t know it had been banned, it's just codeine and paracetemol as far as I know. It goes great with booze - but that is really irresponsible thing to say and I never did such things in my youth.

Diclofenac sucks in my opinion, sure it got rid of the pain but I had no feeling of being wrapped in cotton wool.

Sorry to hear about your mother Iain, best thing I would suggest is she speaks to her doctor about how best to combine paracetemol and codeine manually.

Martin Gauci said...

Dear Iain,
I also have been taking pain medication for over twenty years following a injury in the Marines.
Tell your Mum to ask her Dr to prescribe Co-Codamol (Solpadol) which comes in varying strengths.
Enjoy your blog immensely.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that codeine can also cause constipation! Drugs affect different people in different ways and to different degrees.

Nasty old business!

tapestry said...

or try what Sarkozy's having....has France elected a Charles Kennedy? Oh Dear!!!

Rachel Joyce said...

Alternatives that are considered just as good include co-dydramol or any other mixture of paracetamol and codeine mixture - eg boots own brand
or you can get stronger variant of same thing from gp - such as Tylex if it is really bad.
My best wishes to her. Patricia Hewitt probably doesn't believe that there are people out there suffering from problems as she thinks they have all been cured within 18 weeks of referral! Some of us know she is in for the long haul so keep on the case.

mike clarke said...

My best wishes to your mother, Ian and I recommend she try Diclofenac and Paracetamol; it worked a treat for me when I damaged my shoulder through splitting logs.

Chris A said...

Co-proxamol will indeed lose its licence but doctors will still (as with any unlicensed medicines) be able to prescribe it - bit woe betide them if one of their patients poisons themselves with it.

The problems with co-proxamol stem from the fact that it's very dangerous - the paracatemol does for your liver and the dextropropoxyphene does you by respiratory depression - in overdose. Another problem is that it contains a sub-therapeutic dose of paracetamol and hence is not very effective. That being said it worked for me but only because codeine makes me sick. Your mother might find a NSAID (if she can take them) and paracetamol in combination as effective

Norfolk Blogger said...

Iain, I am in the same position with my knees. When they hurt, Co-P;oximol was the only thing that got near the pain. I've taken them since I was a teenager with no ill effects.

Presumably they will ban cars next as someone died in one last week.

judith said...

Norfolk Blogger: no, air is to be banned next, as it has been discovered after years of intensive research that every person known to have breathed in air has died eventually.

Phil of Harrow said...

I had this doctor in the back of my cab once. He said he reckoned it was his job to decide what drugs to prescribe based on his experience, advice from the profession and the wishes of the patient.

Gawd knows who (or do I mean whom; perhaps the arch Bishop Whatsit could advise) he thought he was. How dare he (the doc. not the arch bishop) entertain the thought that he knew better than his betters.

Lady Finchley said...

Chris is right. GPs will still be able to prescribe it in certain cases so all is not lost.

Anonymous said...

Hmm..interesting. The only time I've ever taken this was while recovering from a hernia operation. This seems rather bizarre, as most drugs have side-effects. As Ian Thorpe points out, because a few people are stupid [or possibly reckless..] all have to suffer.

The only consolation is that a 'man of your means' may be able to acquire such medication 'off-prescription'. Less than ideal, and may have insurance implications.

Although I often find that the reason such medication is no longer available on the NHS is something else entirely - they have a very similar new drug which is still 'on-patent' whereas the old drug is 'off-patent' and so they can keep coining in revenue long after the 15 year patent life has expired.

Trebles all round !!!!

Anonymous said...

Explain to me again the benefit of having, not only the state, but a directly political government department running hospitals.

canvas said...

I wonder if David Kelley's death had more to it than a Coproxamol overdose? Maybe Tony Blair can expand on this??
A dark cloud still hangs over that incident...

Peter Mc said...

Is co-proxamol what allowed His Grace to bear the flames with such dignity?

A handful of paracetamol can kill as surely government agents sorry I mean co-proxamol. King John died of a surfeit of lampreys, and they haven't been banned yet. Although it maybe in Brown's first 100 days.

bebopper said...

2 Paracetamol (500mg) and 2 Tramadol (50mg) pacify my aching arse on a car journey.
For sitting at my desk, 2 Paracetamols and copious amounts of whiskey.
Best wishes to your mother.

Anonymous said...

Co-proxamol is safe, it was threatening Blair's position that was fatal in Kelly's case.

BTW If you need the stuff, get it over the counter from any farmacia on your next trip to Torremolinos/Benidorm etc.

Anonymous said...

Iain - great sympathy with your mother - I've got osteoarthritis in my shoulder and it's not pleasant.

On the subject of NHS refusing established treatments to patients see the following:

Anonymous said...

Oh dear

Lot of cod medicine here, e.g.

"Diclofenac is also good as you can take it in combination with paracetamol."

Yes, you can, but it is not coproxamol.

Coproxamol (the famous Distalgesic) was a compound pain killer containing destropropoxyphine

see here (

From a strictly scientific point of view, compound analgesia is not a good idea. Best to use the components separately.

The most dangerous thing about Distalgesic was the paracetamol, not the dextropropoxyphene.

Don't really know why it was taken of the market : fear of dextropoxyphene I suspect - it did make some people woozy.

It is much missed by patients and therefore by doctors.

Was it THAT good? I doubt it. Many feel it was the torpedo shape of the original distalgesic that got people - usually old ladies - hooked.


red'n'dread said...

Bwoy Hiain man.

Me sorry fe 'ear about your Mum.

Fergit dem pharmaceutical and stick wid de horganic.

Best t'ing fe she, a couple a bag a dat nice cauli 'erb from back a yard.

In fac', me know a man.

One Love.


Vienna Woods said...

As a sufferer of arthritis for many years, I tried everything. Pain killers of whatever basis, do not prevent, or reduce the cause.

About one year ago I learned of some research carried out in Scandinavia where a component of Rose-Hip berries was found to really help to reduce the inflammation. Our local chemist was kind enough to find a supplier of the capsules and I began taking them. I'm not normally a fan of natural medicines, but I was desperate to try anything. After just a few weeks the arthritis began to recede and believe it, or not, has now completely gone. It might not work for everyone, but it's worth a try. The name of the capsules that I have been taking is "LITOZIN" and I daresay they are available in the UK.

achilles said...


thank you for the tip!


Observer said...


"I learned of some research carried out in Scandinavia"

Seems to have caught on....

Cranmer said...

Is co-proxamol what allowed His Grace to bear the flames with such dignity?

Quite so, quite so. But it was divinely induced, not orally consumed, and the pain, though very great indeed, was subsumed to the analgesia of the assurance of salvation.

Ed said...

DK wasn't even given a lethal dose - which I understand is quite high.

I was given it as a child to treat migraines so it can't be that dangerous.

Classic stupidity from NL.

neil craig said...

The same applies to thalidomide which eases pain when morphine no longer does. The effect on unborn children is now understood & works only in combination with a lack of vitamin B & so could be perfectly safe if sold only in tablets also containing vitamin B.

Pot has aslo, it is alleged, a similar effect on pian relief.

On a utilitarian view we are certainly killing many people by preventing them getting drugs whose side effects, if any, are only apparent when feeding rats enormous quantities. The extrapolation that small quantities have a proportional effect to large one is known as the Linear No Threshold theory. An older theory known as Hormesis, that small quantities of materials that are dangerous in large quantities may be good for you is small has more experimental support in chemistry & far more in real life.

javelin said...

It all seems to be tied up with paracetamol. This is a little confusing can anybody else make out what is going on?

AIMS: To describe how changes in legislation to restrict paracetamol sales have affected overdose discharges and death associated with the drug in Scotland. METHODS: A descriptive analysis of routine death and hospital discharge data for the entire Scottish population between 1995 and 2004. Patients in Scotland participated who were discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of poisoning; deaths in Scotland from diagnosis of poisoning 1995-2003 were also analysed. Outcome measures were changes in mortality and overdose due to poisoning involving paracetamol. A comparison was made of in-hospital and out-of-hospital mortality in fatalities involving paracetamol. RESULTS: The majority of paracetamol-associated deaths were due to co-proxamol. Deaths associated with paracetamol alone or with ethanol occurred principally in hospital and were a minority of deaths overall. The proportion of in-hospital deaths attributed to paracetamol increased (post/pre ratio 1.347; 95% confidence interval 1.076, 1.639; P = 0.013). Overall numbers of cases discharged with poisoning fell. The proportion of these involving paracetamol in any form increased significantly in all groups except young men aged 10 to <20 years. CONCLUSIONS: Legislation has not reduced mortality or proportional use of paracetamol in overdose, both of which appear to have increased in Scotland since pack-size limitations. Other approaches are necessary to reduce the death rate from overdoses involving paracetamol.

forthurst said...

what actually 'damaged' David Kelly's health was having the inside knowledge and credibility to contract neocon lies. This condition normally causes severe 'loss of career', but in rare cases can lead to the sufferer becoming 'suicided'.

javelin said...

There is a large political dimension to this Iain - but it's not Dr Kelly.

Go to and search for proxamol

The recommendation seems to be to restrict the license and not to ban it. Somebody in Government seems to have over reacted. This story seems to be related to deaths of men from suicide that have been in the paper recently. 4000 men have died from suicide compared with 150 killed in Iraq over the same period. This Government give mens health a raw deal (because we're working all day). Whether it's suicide, GPs working hours men get shafted. Men need a minister.

The real killer is thay men live 5 years less than women - this is the same as the same longevity gap between the poorest and richest areas in Scotland. Loads of tax payers money is poured in to poverty but none into mens longevity - it's a national scandle.

Anyway back to point. Here are some of the titles of papers that have been published on the drug. It all seems to kick off in May 2002 after a published study on trends in suicide. Dr Kelly died in July 2003.

Trends in suicide from drug overdose in the elderly in England and Wales, 1993-1999.

Co-proxamol and suicide: Licence needs to be changed.

Co-proxamol and suicide: Co-proxamol should be restricted, not banned.

Co-proxamol overdose is associated with a 10-fold excess mortality compared with other paracetamol combination analgesics.

Co-proxamol and suicide: preventing the continuing toll of overdose deaths.

worried said...

neil craig said...

On a utilitarian view we are certainly killing many people by preventing them getting drugs whose side effects, if any, are only apparent when feeding rats enormous quantities. The extrapolation that small quantities have a proportional effect to large one is known as the Linear No Threshold theory. An older theory known as Hormesis, that small quantities of materials that are dangerous in large quantities may be good for you is small has more experimental support in chemistry & far more in real life.

This just goes to show what happens when you have people who don't understand science making scientific decisions (a situation that is bound to increase as the teaching of real science is banned - see Wellington Grey about physics).

We really ought to ban water, as an overdose of it caused a foolish girl to die while participating in a radio station competition in the USA, and equally caused the only death among runners in this year's London Marathon.

Life is real, we are adults. Please let us make our own decisions based on our own priorities and understandings.

Roger Thornhill said...

Are there no lengths that this squalid bunch of charlatains will not go to cover their tracks and divert attention?

The banning of this drug has just increased my suspicions in regard to the whole affair.

ffrank said...

Now if my understanding of a co-proximol overdose is anything to go by, the paracetamol causes irreversable liver damage and the dextropropoxphene will simply stupify you...hence the "Do not drive or operate machinery" warning on all distalgesics. So not really an ideal tool for those contemplating ending it all....unless of course we are forgetting something. Alcohol! How many of the documented co-prox related suicides or attempted suicides involved a fatal mix of pills and booze? They always do on the television! Seen it times, the good guy just cant take any he takes to his bed with a packet of pills and a bottle of whiskey. Dont remember the scene where the guy takes a packet of pills and a bottle of Evian water though....must have missed that film!

Henry North London said...

Co-proxamol got me through my disc prolapse I wont hear a bad word against it


Dihydrocodeine is converted to heroin in the body... much easier than codeine

If morphine were codeine then dihydrocodeine would be heroin

They both have acetyl bonds which is why they dissolve faster

Alan said...

I would like to attempt to close the debate on this subject once and for all. As a Pharmacy Graduate I know all about this situation. What has happened is that many reports of accidental death and suicide come in every year linked to paracetamol and various opiates. The key difference with co-proxamol is that, while containing a lower dose of paracetamol that other combination products, it contains a relatively large amount of dextropropoxyphene. This, it has been found, has much more pronounced cardiac and respiratory side effects than morphine, to which it is related. As a result, not the NHS but the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) made the well-reasoned and informed decision to remove the Manufacturers; License from the product and any containing co-proxamol. This means that it is not officially a medicinal product and as such cannot be prescribed on the NHS. It can still be manufactured but starts to fall into confusing legal domain which will more than baffle the most intelligent of you.

As a result, the current closest matching product is 30/500 co-codamol or 10/500 co-dydramol. As many people here have correctly stated there are other alternatives and each individual must persevere until they find a product suitable for them. If that means taking Paracetamol+NSAID (insert diclofenac/naproxen/ibuprofen etc) +opiate then so be it. It is on the onus of the patient and doctor to work together in partnership to find the best combination and not to blame the NHS for preventing a few 1000 deaths every year and thereby reducing the NHS' outlay-for-treating-overdose-and-drug-misuse costs. To be honest, if they can reduce that by the ~£1,000,000 they reckon they can through this legislation, then all these other people out there who go on the news because they have been denied treatment that will cost the NHS £5000 a month might get some relief, and I wouldn't get so frustrated with people who think they have the right to everything without paying anything into the system or thinking that the money has to come from somewhere so bloody well raise taxes by however much it takes!

Rant over, and hopefully the end to this discussion too (although I concede I may have opened up a whole new can of worms).

Henry North London said...

Confusing legal domain

Unlicensed medication which can be obtained but would be illegal to prescribe by any doctor in the UK but you could in theory be prescribed it overseas by a doctor overseas and not have any problems as long as you had a letter stating this from that doctor

I used co prox when I had a disc prolapse

It was the best thing out

Now if I had a disc prolapse Id be after dihydrocodeine or oramorph as a replacement

You see where the difficulty lies though dont you?

Alan said...

I understand the frustration that is out there, I'm just trying to put the medical viewpoint into the debate. As for the confusing legal domain I mentioned... abroad is abroad and therefore not this country and therefore does not fall under the same legislation. As a result you may be able to get various drugs abroad that are not available here and vice versa (thalidomide is an example that springs to mind - never available in USA due to potential nerve damage, available here but caused birth defects so withdrawn, still available in South America for treatment of leprosy but not licensed for use in pregnancy or breastfeeding). Do you see my point.

The reason for this legislation is not to stop people from receiving a drug that works for them (though that may be a side effect of it), it is merely to reduce the accidental/non-accidental/deliberate poisoning rates and the death rate from a drug which has been proven to be more dangerous than others in the same class.
I'm sorry for the people out there for whom co-proxamol was a satisfactory analgesic but since analgesia contains the largest group of medicines and there are many other holistic/complementary therapies available = GO TO YOUR DOCTOR AND TALK TO HIM ABOUT THE PROBLEM.