Viral Text Claiming Combiflam Can Kill You is False & Misleading
Image used for representative purpose. 
Image used for representative purpose. (Photo: iStock)

Viral Text Claiming Combiflam Can Kill You is False & Misleading

Will your habit of popping a pill like combiflam daily kill you? If viral forwards on social media are to be believed, then it would.

What’s The Claim?

A viral message on WhatsApp and Facebook claims that one pill of combiflam can take your life. Even the company (selling combiflam) has started recalling the tablets from the market, it goes on say. It urges its recipients to share the message with their friends and family.

There’s also a link to a website called trendingtoday.online.

So, are the claims of this message this true?

(Photo Courtesy: Screenshot/BOOM)

But First, What is Combiflam?

Combiflam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), controls hormones in the body which cause pain and inflammation.

It offers relief from several problems like toothache, headache, arthritis, pain in the back, menstrual cramps, and other types of small injuries.

The drug is a mixture of paracetamol and ibuprofen in fixed quantities, and is therefore more potent as compared to a drug containing only paracetamol.

Fact

The origins of this message date back to 2015, when several batches of combiflam tablets were found to be substandard and were marked for recall.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) found combiflam, along with several other drugs, substandard in its routine tests. (Click here for the March 2017 bulletin of CDSCO).

Combiflam batch number A151195, manufactured in October 2015, failed the disintegration test of CDSCO. Last year, the CDSCO had found combiflam to be substandard three times — in February, April and June — as it failed the same disintegration test, reported Indian Express in April 2017.

Sanofi India, the company that manufacturers Combiflam, admits that certain batches of the drug had ‘delayed disintegration time’ and steps have been taken to address it.

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In an email response to BOOM, Sanofi India spokesperson said, “Some batches of combiflam tablets manufactured between 2015 and the first half of 2016 were found by CDSCO to have a ‘delayed disintegration’ time. This pharmaceutical parameter assesses the time taken for the tablet to break down.”

Given that certain batches of combiflam were experiencing delayed disintegration, they qualified as a Class III recall, wherein consumption of the product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.
Sanofi India spokesperson

BOOM also spoke to K Bangarurajan, deputy drugs controller, West Zone (India), CDSCO, who had issued a letter to all the sub-offices to keep a ‘strong vigil’ on the movement of 60 drugs including Combiflam.

“We did find on tests that the disintegration of the drug once consumed exceeded the time limit prescribed according to the company’s own standards. This results in delayed efficacy of the drug and complications in the long-term if the faulty batches are not withdrawn,” said Bangrurajan.

While there may be nothing wrong with the contents of the drug, the effect of the drug is absorbed late. We have to ensure that the faulty batches are not available in the market and regular inspections are being carried out.
Deputy drugs controller K Bangarurajan

But is Delayed Disintegration a Cause For Worry?

Sanofi insists that they will not compromise on the quality of the drug and are constantly taking steps to recall the 2015 batch that was flagged as sub-standard by the regulator.

But the company says patients have nothing to worry.

In the case of Combiflam, though the disintegration time was delayed, doctors and patients who have prescribed or consumed Combiflam can be assured that there is no impact on the safety and efficacy of the product.
Sanofi India spokesperson

Doctors say that the normal ‘Indian practice’ of popping a Combiflam without a doctor’s prescription is harmful in the long-run and should be strictly avoided.

While there are no real dangers of ‘delayed disintegration’ except for delayed relief from pain, uncontrolled consumption of the tablet is more harmful, warn doctors.

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“We don’t recommend combiflam for fever, and viral, for which paracetamol is more than enough. Too much combiflam can produce gastric issues, stomach ulcers and kidney related problems. Since combiflam provides faster relief as compared to paracetamol due to its higher potency, many take the pill without supervision and get addicted to it. That is clearly avoidable,” said Dr Hemant Thacker, cardio-metabolic specialist based in Mumbai.

Combiflam is only recommended for those having arthritis, joint pain and inflammation, said Dr Thacker.

While you can stop panicking about those viral social media messages, remember to take combiflam only on your doctor’s prescription.

You must also keep an eye on batch number A151195 – which was manufactured in October 2015 and would expire in September 2018 – and inform your retailer to take it off the counter.

(This article was first published on BOOM. It has been republished with permission.)

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