A drug that has been considered too dangerous for use in America and Canada is still freely available in the UK.
The UK's drug regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA), has decided to allow the COX-2 painkiller Prexige (lumiracoxib) to remain on the market, even though it has been banned in Canada and Australia, and America's regulator will not approve it.
Health Canada, the country's drug registration agency, says the 100 mg dose can cause serious liver-related problems, including hepatitis. The drug had been approved in Canada in November, 2006, since when two cases of liver damage associated with the drug have been reported.
The Australian authorities banned all doses of the drug in August, and America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has refused to approve it.
Despite these moves, the UK's MHPRA has decided to keep the drug in all its dosages available on prescription. It is also available in 50 other countries, including all EU countries.
The COX-2 family of drugs has already been associated with a dramatic increase in the risk of heart problems, some fatal.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2007; 335: 791).