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A CHOLESTEROL-lowering drug was swiftly taken off the Irish market yesterday following revelations it may be linked to more than 30 deaths in the US.

Pharmaceutical firm Bayer suspended the marketing and distribution of the drug Baycol/Lipobay because of fears of life-threatening side-effects.

The US Food and Drug Administration said Baycol might be linked to 31 deaths from severe rhabdomyolysis - a condition that can result in kidney and other organ failure.

Lipobay is given out on prescription to thousands of Irish patients with high cholesterol.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) expressed further concerns about the use of the drug in conjunction with another drug called Lopid.

A spokeswoman said: "There is a rare but serious reaction when Lipobay is used together with Lopid.

"The combination can lead to muscle breakdown and possible kidney damage."

The IMB has had no reports of illnesses or reactions in Ireland to date, but the suspension was a necessary precaution.

The IMB said: "Bayer continued to receive adverse reaction reports associated with the simultaneous use of both products.

"In the interest of patients' safety it has decided to suspend the marketing of the product."

A Bayer spokeswoman said no complaints regarding Lipobay had been received from Ireland. She said the product was being reassessed.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Aug 10, 2001
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