March 16, 2006

The government of Pakistan has banned Metamizole, a fever and pain medication manufactured by Aventis Pharma. The drug, which can cause life-threatening side-effects, has already been banned in most developed countries. The U.S. FDA took the drug off the market in 1979.

The government's decision places a ban on the import, manufacture and sale of all products containing Metamizole and requires all existing stocks of the drug to be recalled and safely destroyed within 14 days of the announcement.

Metamizole was widely prescribed until the 1970s, when serious side-effects — such as agranulocytosis, a condition in which the body's white blood cell count drops dramatically — began to be reported. It was first banned in Sweden in 1974, with more than 30 countries, including Japan, Australia, and most of the EU, following suit. It is still available over the counter in several third-world countries.