Updated at 19:48,25-10-2020

Banned in West medicines available in Belarus


The medicines that have been withdrawn from markets across the world can still be bought at Belarusian pharmacies.

Let's take the example of metamizole sodium, which is widely known as Analgin in Belarus. More than 70 countries stopped selling it due to its toxicity. Banning Analgin tablets is not enough, because metamizole sodium is contained in such drugs as Spasmalgon, Baralgin, Benalgin, Baralgetas, Tempalgin and others, Yezhednevnik reports.

"Long-term usage of Analgin may cause changes in the blood composition, agranulocytosis, leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. It is mainly produced in post-Soviet countries and Bulgaria and sold in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus," pharmacist Natallia Bitel says.

Medications containing metamizole of course help, but they are not safe. Why should we risk if there are innocuous analogues?

Nimesulide, a popular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, raises many questions too. It is banned in many developed countries, but can be found in Belarus in a variety of forms (tablets, powder). Pharmacists recommend to avoid it.

They advise using paracetamol and ibuprofen, perhaps, the less dangerous pain relievers, which, by the way, can be used for children.

The excessive availability of certain medicines and the practice of selling less effective drugs raise a lot of questions.

For example, antiviral drug rimantadine was very popular in Belarus this winter, though it causes apathy and trouble sleeping. It can be dangerous for the liver, not for all people, but still for a rather high number of patients. It influences only influenza A virus, though it's usual that different strains of types A and B circulate simultaneously. So, rimantadine has a narrow spectrum of activity. We have a medicine with low effectiveness and serious side effects.

The extremely popular ketorolac is often used thoughtlessly, for instance to relieve period pains in women. Taking ketorolac is like killing a butterfly from a gun instead of swatting it with a slipper. It's a strong pain reliever that can be used after surgery. It's as effective as narcotic drugs and doesn't cause addiction, though leads to serious problems with kidneys and bleeding in the stomach. Less dangerous medications should be used if a patient doesn't have serious problems.

Asked why medicines that have been withdrawn in many countries, like Analgin, can be bought in Belarus, the Department for Pharmaceutical Control and Support said: "If Analgin is included in the State Register of Medicines, it means it's not so dangerous." The argument you don't know how to answer to. If the medication is allowed officially, it's up to you to decide whether to risk your health using the ordinary drug or look for something safer.