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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 16:42 GMT
Arthritis remedy theory for death
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
Mr Ferrie died in hospital in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
An over-the-counter remedy may have caused the death of a 64-year-old engineer from liver failure, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

Norman Ferrie, from Invergowrie, Perthshire, died within two months of starting to take glucosamine tablets to ease the pain of arthritis.

The inquiry heard that the tablets may have caused an acute allergic reaction.

His sister Elaine Ferrie, 59, told the court that her brother had been previously been "strong and healthy".

She claimed the doctor who saw Mr Ferrie just days before his death told her that the Glucosamine tablets could have been the cause of his liver failure.

It seems incredible that a very strong and healthy man can die so quickly
Elaine Ferrie
Norman Ferrie's sister

"The doctor said it was consistent with having an acute allergic reaction to some drug he had ingested - that was glucosamine," said Ms Ferrie, a community safety worker.

"It seems incredible that a very strong and healthy man can die so quickly and the only unusual thing was that he had taken glucosamine."

She called for warnings about the potential risks of such alternative medicines to be made more widely available and for them to be tested as rigorously as prescription medicines.

"We feel the public need to be aware that there are possible risks to taking glucosamine or other such remedies," she added.

"We feel there should be systems in place to flag up similar incidents which would show the history of side effects and that there are dangers in relation to this."

Blood tests

Ms Ferrie said that her brother started taking the glumosamine tablets in April or May 2004 and began to feel unwell three or four weeks later.

In June he went for blood tests at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and was admitted later that month, but died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on 3 July.

Glucosamine, a chemical compound which occurs naturally in the body, is involved in the maintenance of connective tissue such as the cartilage.

The inquiry will continue next year.

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