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UK study highlights use of co-praxamol in suicide attempts

OXFORD, ENGLAND, May 14, 2003 -- A new study shows that the analgesic co-proxamol, which is prescribed for pain, is the second most common prescription drug used for suicide.

Researchers in England analyzed data from 1997 to 1999 and recorded 15,299 suicides in England and Wales. Twenty-seven percent of the suicides were drug-related, and poisoning with co-proxamol involved in 18 percent of the suicide deaths. More co-proxamol deaths occurred in men than in women.

Tricyclic antidepressants accounted for the most drug-related suicides. These were used for 22 percent of overdose cases. Women were more likely to use the tricyclic drugs than co-proxamol. The odds that an overdose will be fatal are more than two-times greater with co-proxamol than with antidepressants.

Although the total number of deaths increased with age, those caused by co-proxamol poisoning occurred more frequently in people 10 to 24 years old. There were also 171 deaths where co-proxamol was used in combination with another drug.

Authors of the study say co-proxamol is dangerous because death can result from an overdose with relatively few tablets, especially when alcohol is also involved. They say doctors must be informed about the risks of overdose with co-proxamol and should not prescribe the drug without good reason.

Researchers write-reducing the availability of drugs used for suicide can result in a reductions in deaths, and availability of co-proxamol should be restricted.

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Source: British Medical Journal, 2003;326:1006-1008

Posted: May 2003