The research team that analysed prescribing practices in 15 countries, which included England, found that the drug diclofenac was generally chosen over other painkillers in spite of its higher risk of deadly side effects.
The report is published in PLoS Medicine.
According to experts, the risk of side effects and complications with diclofenac is small, and patients who are prescribed this drug should continue to take it.
Rofecoxib (Vioxx), a similar painkiller in the same non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug family was taken from the market voluntarily by its manufacturer in 2004 due to concerns over it being associated with heart risks.
In Europe, there continues to be a review of the safety of diclofenac.
While often prescribing diclofenac is appropriate, there are concerns that it may not be the right choice for all patients.
A professor of vascular rheumatology at Imperial College London, Justin Mason said he does think diclofenac is over-prescribed. “There are some particular cases when it is a good option – but there are other painkillers that may be considered safer.”
The painkiller, Diclofenac, is quite often used for treatment of painful ailments such as arthritis.
Normally, it is prescribed at the lowest dosage, for the shortest amount of time, to cut down the chances of complications and side effects.
Even though circulatory and heart complications are rare – it is estimated that three out of every 1,000 people treated with diclofenac for a year will develop them- doctors are careful about prescribing the drug.