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A Lethal South American Over the Counter Medication: Neo Melubrina

An over the counter medication marketed as a stronger more efficient aspirin that is available in South America has been found to cause a rare and obscure condition. This condition leads to the decrease number of white blood cells that are needed in order to help digest microorganisms and help the immune system fight off infections.

An over the counter medication that is available in parts of South America, primarily in Mexico, has been recently banned as of 1977 in the United States.  The reason why it was banned in the United States was because the over counter medication entitled ‘Neo-Melubrina’, in Mexico, contains high amounts of Dipyrone which happens to be a very effective analgesic and antipyretic drug.  However this drug has been discovered to cause long term negative effects such as agranulocytosis which is the decrease of granulocytes in the blood stream.  Granulocytes are a type of white blood cell that contain granules which are microscopic sacs filled with enzymes that help digest microorganisms and fight off against infections within the immune system.      

If agranulocytosis is left untreated than the risk of death becomes increasingly high.  Agranulocytosis can lead to uncontrolled sepsis, bacteria within the bloodstream, which can cause infections in a patient’s oral mucosa, skin, sinuses and gums.  Symptoms of agranulocytosis include fevers with the possibility of chills, painful swollen ulcers in the gums, skin infections and pharyngitis.   

Although this condition is not necessarily common within the United States citizens who are traveling abroad, especially to parts located in South America, should take extra precaution regarding over the counter medications that they may take while there.  Neo-Melubrina for example is marketed as a “Mexican Aspirin” capable of reducing pain, fevers, and headaches therefore travelers will not find any reason to be suspicious of this medication.  However, death from Neo-Melubrina is still a possibility even if taken as low as once per month.   

Domesticated cases of agranulocytosis are still reported in the United States due to the accidental and consistent ingestion of Neo-Melubrina.  This is because Mexico shares such a close proximity with the United States that the over counter medications find their way fairly easily to parts all over Southern California, especially in clinics in the San Diego area.  Also, the lack of knowledge about the dangers of taking Neo-Melubrina make it so that the drug is taken in order to treat headaches and various other pains throughout the body. 

If symptoms of Neo-Melubrina begin to occur then see a physician immediately.  A physician will first want to begin with a white blood cell count in order to ensure what precautionary measures should be taken and to assess any damage that may have already been done.  In most cases agranulocytosis is instantly reversed and no serious permanent damage is suffered.   

Sources:

Imported Drugs Raise Safety Concerns.”  FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration 

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