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Arthritis drug withdrawn for over-50s due to lung clot risk
By thinkSPAIN Team Mon, May 20, 2019
HEALTH authorities in Spain have ordered restrictions on the use of a drug prescribed for rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis for the over-50s due to the possible risk of a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot on the lungs.
In conjunction with the Spanish Agency for Medications and Healthcare Products (AEMPS), the ministry of health has reviewed the risk-benefit balance of Tofacitinib – a process where the likelihood of side-effects is weighed up against the potential benefits of a drug, to determine whether it should be prescribed – and considers that the typical twice-daily dose of 10 milligrams must not be taken by anyone aged 50 or over.
Clinical trials to evaluate the safety of Tofacitinib have found that the risk of pulmonary embolism, which can be sudden and fatal if not caught in time but which does not always show notable symptoms, is too high above a certain age, and that the medication also heightens the danger of at least one other cardiovascular incident.
Health minister María Luisa Carcedo says Tofacitinib will be withdrawn for anyone aged 50 or over, but the risk is not found to be significant enough to do in younger patients.
This is a temporary move until further testing can be carried out.
Anyone currently taking Tofacitinib and who is around the age of 50 or older should immediately make an appointment with their GP to arrange for another type of medication to be prescribed.
Sra Carcedo says patients should not abruptly stop their treatment before their doctor's appointment, however, unless they have noticed signs of possible adverse effects.
If any symptoms that share characteristics with those of a blood clot on the lungs are noticed, patients should immediately head for A&E either at their nearest hospital or walk-in clinic.
These signs can include shortness of breath, which may come on very suddenly; sharp chest pain which suddenly appears and becomes worse with coughing or breathing deeply: faster-than-usual heartbeat; faster breathing; sweating; anxiety; fainting or feeling faint; and coughing up blood or pink, foamy mucus.
Sometimes, pain or swelling in one or both legs, usually in the calf, can occur, depending upon which lung artery is blocked.
Many of these warning signs, however, even several together, may be an indication of a much more harmless condition – shortness of breath, sweating, fast breathing or heartbeat, chest pains and feeling faint are all consistent with a panic attack, for example – so patients should try not to worry unduly.
But they should still seek immediate medical attention as a precaution, even if they know they already suffer panic attacks.
If a pulmonary embolism is caught in time, it can be treated relatively swiftly, but without medical attention, can quickly be fatal.
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