My husband was left foaming at the mouth after being given ‘killer painkiller’ and became


A fit and healthy British father suffered devastating side effects from a common painkiller before eventually taking his own life, his widow has revealed, with the same drug linked to dozens of deaths in Spain.

Mark Froome was given Nolotil while awaiting a knee operation in 2022, but quickly deteriorated and had to be rushed to A&E after the drug depleted his white blood cell count to zero, turning him into ‘an old man overnight’.

He had been living in Benidorm for six years with his wife Amanda, 66, who says her ‘happy’ husband ‘never went back to the person he was’ after the drug’s side effects left him with ‘major mental and physical health problems.’

Metamizole, commonly sold under the brand Nolotil, is banned in the UK and more than 40 countries worldwide, but is popular with doctors in Spain – many of whom work by the phrase ‘Nolotil if pain’.

Amanda is the latest Brit to come forward with a horror story about the drug, which is dubbed the ‘killer painkiller’ by campaigners who say it has caused the deaths of almost 40 Brits in Spain and left others with horrific injuries. 

Mark Froome was given Nolotil while awaiting a knee operation in 2022, but quickly deteriorated and had to be rushed to A&E

Mark Froome was given Nolotil while awaiting a knee operation in 2022, but quickly deteriorated and had to be rushed to A&E

Mark had been living in Benidorm for six years with his wife Amanda when his ordeal began

Mark had been living in Benidorm for six years with his wife Amanda when his ordeal began

The mother-of-one has told MailOnline about her family’s ordeal, which began when her husband was prescribed Nolotil, the brand name for metamizole, in April 2022. 

Mark, who was a full-time carer for Amanda’s 92-year-old mother, was awaiting a knee operation and had been prescribed Nolotil as a stronger painkiller. ‘He had been waiting a very long time for the procedure,’ said Amanda. 

He was given a ten-day dose despite recommendations that the drug should only be taken being only seven days at a time as a ‘short-term treatment’.

He then went to the pharmacy to get a top-up and was given more Nolotil tablets without a prescription, despite the drug requiring one.

Amanda said doctors and pharmacists never told them of the risks associated with Nolotil, which is a cheap and effective painkiller and a go-to for medics in Spain despite fears over potential adverse side effects.

Two days after he began taking Mark had a sore throat, joking with his wife that she had given him her cold as he dropped her to the airport to go back to the UK for a few days.

She called him to check up every day, but found that while she was feeling better after 24 hours, ‘he felt much worse’. He refused to go to the doctors she said, ‘as men often do’, insisting it was just a virus.

‘He then called me the day before I was due to fly back from the UK and I could hardly hear him speak,’ she said. 

Mark’s neighbour went to check on him and found he had become seriously ill, and decided to rush him to the hospital.

‘The doctor took one look and could see his throat was almost entirely closed up. He was coughing up bubbling foamy stuff and could hardly breathe,’ Amanda said.

Mark was admitted to the the emergency department and Amanda was told to get an emergency flight home that day as doctors feared he had sepsis.

He was soon diagnosed with agranulacytosis, which saw his white blood cells depleted and made him vulnerable to infection.

He stayed in hospital for more than a week as he tried to rebuild his white blood cell count, which took far longer than doctors had hoped.

‘I just saw him deteriorate before my eyes.’ said Amanda. ‘Before, he was physically fit and active, loved his workouts. 

‘It was awful to see him become so weak and be so tearful – he was not usually a man who cried easily.

‘To think this is a drug that is supposed to help you, and it puts you into this state.

‘The only reason he survived it was because he was so physically fit. If he had taken Nolotil for longer he probably wouldn’t have.’

Nolotil is banned in more than 40 countries, including Britain, Australia, Canada and the US

Nolotil is banned in more than 40 countries, including Britain, Australia, Canada and the US

After six days, Mark eventually began to up his white blood cell count, but was far from in the clear. He was sent home for rest and recovery. 

‘He couldn’t walk out of the hospital, I had to wheel him out in a wheelchair. He had been healthy and proud of his physique, but overnight became an old man, Amanda reflected on the ordeal.

‘His recovery didn’t go as the doctors expected, they thought his white blood cells would return back to normal. But he never got back to normal.

‘He had major mental and physical health problems after that. He worried he couldn’t protect me, even if I was just going out to walk the dog he feared he couldn’t help me if something went wrong. It was a PTSD type of reaction.’

While Mark had suffered with depression in the past, Amanda said he had been ‘on an even keel for years’.

‘We had moved to Spain for a less stressful lifestyle, so he could work less. He had been so happy prior to this happening.

‘He quickly lost trust in the medical system, in doctors and in drugs. He even refused to take paracetamol.

‘He never really got over it. He got back into his fitness but his muscle wouldn’t reform, and that made him more depressed.

‘Life just became very, very difficult for him. He would say things like “you would be better off without me”.

'We had moved to Spain for a less stressful lifestyle, so he could work less. He had been so happy prior to this happening,' Amanda said

‘We had moved to Spain for a less stressful lifestyle, so he could work less. He had been so happy prior to this happening,’ Amanda said

It also took its toll on Amanda: ‘He seemed to lose his interest in meeting friends, I would ask him to come out and he would tell me to just go by myself. He lost his zest for life.

‘Then one day it all became too much. He was overwhelmed by a feeling of worthlessness he had never had before.’

Mark took his own life in October last year.

‘He made it through the Nolotil experience but did not survive the long-term effects,’ said his heartbroken wife.

‘I can’t say it was Nolotil that caused his death, but its effects made him into not someone I knew, not the person I married. He never went back to the person he was.

‘We put our faith in the doctors, the experts, but a drug that is supposed to help you could actually kill you.’

Now Amanda is focused on raising awareness about Nolotil and the risks it poses to British people living and holidaying in Spain. 

There are concerns that British people are more susceptible to horrific side effects caused by the drug, with a 2016 study finding that the risk posed to Brits is ’80 to 120 times higher’ than to Spanish people. 

The study, which focused on the five health departments in Spain with the most British residents and tourists, has not been published.

Experts say not enough evidence has been gathered to support this and that more work needs to be done.

A 2009 study on 13 patients, five of whom were Brits, at the Hospital Costa del Sol in Marbella found that the rare reaction was ‘more frequent in [the] British population, and its use must be avoided.’ 

‘I fear someone else will take this and the same will happen to them,’ said Amanda.

‘Friends of mine have been offered the drug recently. Even at our local doctors, where they know what happened to Mark, a locum tried to give it to my friend.

‘There are many people who don’t know about the dangers of this drug, particularly tourists going to Spain who get aches and pains and are prescribed it.

Despite the drug being banned in the UK, Amanda said she knows of people who have been sent back home from Spain with a pack of Nolotil.

‘Not only do people get terrible effects, they can also die directly from it. People who have been taking it for even less time than Mark did have died.’ 

‘It’s very scary, it is probably being prescribed to people as we speak’

Less than four months on from Mark’s tragic death, Amanda said she is trying to rebuild her life in the UK. 

‘It changed my life completely. I no longer live in Spain as I couldn’t afford it.

She had to move back to East Sussex following her husband’s death, and had to leave her part-time job to care for her mother full-time without him.

Mark died aged 63. He was a carer for Amanda’s 92-year-old mum. She worked part-time and has now had to move back to Spain from Alicante.

‘Now I am just trying to make a new life for myself. 

She now remembers her husband, who had two children and helped raise her daughter from the age of five, ‘as a much loved step-father and father to his two children.’

A spokesperson for Boehringer Ingelheim, the manufacturer that makes Nolotil, said in a statement: ‘We take patient safety and public health seriously and closely cooperate with the regulators on product safety-related topics. 

‘We are of the opinion that current approved prescribing information adequately addresses current knowledge about identified risks.’

If you need to talk to someone, call Samaritans on 116 123 or visit samaritans.org 

WHAT IS THE DRUG NOLOTIL? AND WHY IS IT CONTROVERSIAL?

Nolotil, which is available on prescription in Spain and Portugal, is given out for mild pain, such as toothaches and muscular discomfort.

Its main side effect is hypersensitivity, which can lead to people suffering from agranulocytosis. This is defined as severely low white blood cell counts, which are involved in the immune system.

Assuming that 300 million people take Nolotil once a month, between 50 and 500 deaths would occur as a result of the medication over a year. People with fair skin are thought to be more affected.  

After its mass production in 1922, Nolotil was first banned in Sweden in 1974, followed by the US in 1979 and subsequently most of the EU.  Many countries still use Nolotil for veterinary use. 

It is available over-the-counter in Russia, with reports suggesting it makes up around 80 per cent of the region’s painkiller market. Nolotil is also readily available to the public in Mexico, India and Brazil.

Some argue Nolotil causes less cardiovascular, kidney and gastrointestinal side effects than other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin.



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