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Coroner describes Tramadol as the ‘number one killer drug in Northern Ireland’

Thursday, 8 June 2017

AN inquest in Ballymena last week heard a Coroner describe the prescription drug Tramadol as the "number one killer drug in Northern Ireland."
Speaking at the Inquest into the death of mother of seven, Elaine Morgan, in Ballymena on March 27, last year Coroner Patrick McGurgan issued a stark warning about the dangers of the prescription painkiller.
He said: "This has been a very difficult time for the Morgan family. Elaine was not only a daughter and sister she was also a mother to seven children.
“They are now without a mother as the direct consequence of what can only be described as a scourge in Northern Ireland and that is Tramadol."
Originally from Ballycastle, Ms Morgan, aged 47, died as the result of Tramadol toxicity combined with Quetiapine and Diazepam.
On the evening of her death she had taken 30 Tramadol tablets, which she acquired from an acquaintance
The Coroner said one of the reasons for holding the inquest at Ballymena Courthouse on Wednesday of last week was to highlight the dangers of "swapping or trading" medication such as Tramadol with other people.
He said the general population did not seem to understand "the dangers of Tramadol, particularly when it is mixed with other drugs."
A postmortem examination carried out by State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, Dr James Lyness, found that there were a number of drugs in Ms Morgan's bloodstream including those prescribed to her.
However, he explained that the therapeutic level of Tramadol, which had not been prescribed, was 14 milligrams per litre.
He said the fatal range could be as low as 1.8 milligrams depending on a person's tolerance of the drug. A sample of blood excluded alcohol.
Mr Lyness said there was no doubt that death was the result of "combined pulmonary thrombosis (deep vein thrombosis) and pneumonia due to Tramadol toxicity".
He explained that deep vein thrombosis would have been "due to immobilisation caused by drug toxicity".
*Read the full story in this week's Ballymena Guardian.

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