A legal and medical translator working in the Alicante region of Spain has managed to successfully change the medical guidelines surrounding the painkiller “Nolotil” due to its dangerous side effects for people of northern European origin.
The translator Cristina García del Campo, realised through her work as a medical translator, that there must be a link between the deaths of British, Irish, and Scandinavian people and the use of the pharmaceutical metamizole (the generic name for Nolotil). After working with an Irish expat who became suddenly ill with sepsis and necrotizing fasciitis after taking the drug, later dying in November, she knew that something was wrong. She noticed that other people were also contracting agranulocytosis, a side effect which wreaks havoc on the immune system, reducing the number of white blood cells in the blood stream, and sometimes leading to fatal blood poisoning. The manufacturers of the drug, Boehringer Ingelheim, warned that contracting agranulocytosis could affect one in 10,000 people prescribed, but these numbers did not seem do add up to Cristina, who had seen many cases of agranulocytosis along the Costa Blanca.
She decided to undertake her own research into the drug by observing patients notes from those suffering from sepsis and agranulocytosis in Hospitals along the Costa Blanca, compiling up to 100 case studies. She noticed that they all had one thing in common, they had been taking Nolotil. Then she began to lobby for an investigation into the link between the drug and the number of tourists falling ill after taking it. It has now been connected to the deaths of at least 10 Britons, who died tragically after being prescribed Nolotil whilst in Spain. She presented her research in front of Pharmacovigilance (a drug safety organisation), which immediately classified the information of “exceptional importance” beginning a large-scale investigation into the drug.
Currently, the drug is not prescribed in the UK, USA, or Sweden, but it is commonly prescribed to patients in Spain, being one of the most popular painkillers. But now, government bodies and healthcare organisations have begun one of the largest pharmaceutical studies in Spanish history across 17 regions. Spain’s Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) has assured that Nolotil will no longer prescribed to British tourists in Spain, thanks to the work of Cristina. Furthermore, the Marina Salud, Departamento de Salud de Dénia, has now informed medical staff to no longer prescribe Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian patients the drug. In a review, the AEMPS have ruled that it is due to a “genetic peculiarity” that Britons are more affected by the side effects than Spaniards and that people with fairer skin are more susceptible to the side effects of the drug.
It is amazing that a translator is the person who started the change in the regulation of this drug, kickstarting the medical and government bodies to enact a chance in medical professionals’ practice. Cristina García del Campo is an inspirational woman, who despite not being a doctor, is the person responsible for saving countless lives of people holidaying in Spain. Perhaps when you do your own medical translations and notice something odd, you yourself could carry out some research, and see if, like Cristina, you could add to medical understanding and save lives!