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Arthritis Pills Little Use in Beating Pain

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Painkillers taken by millions of arthritis sufferers worldwide are actually of limited use in relieving symptoms, Norwegian scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers from the University of Bergen said their findings suggested the drugs should be used only on a short-term basis and be prescribed much more critically in future. Current guidelines in many countries recommend using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including so-called COX-2 inhibitors, for treating patients with osteoarthritis. But there are mounting concerns about their safety, following the withdrawal of Merck & Co Inc’s COX-2 drug Vioxx in September due to heart attack risk. At the same time, many older NSAIDs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, can cause gastrointestinal problems. Jan Magnus Bjordal and colleagues pooled the results of 23 previous clinical trials to find out just how useful all types of NSAIDs and COX-2 drugs were in relieving pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis, the most common form of the disease. Their findings, published online by the British Medical Journal, showed that the drugs reduced pain in the short term only slightly better than placebo. “We were surprised that the effects were so small. These drugs are very commonly used but their effect is below what many patients report as clinically relevant for them,” Bjordal told Reuters. Given the serious adverse effects that the drugs can cause, doctors needed to review carefully whether their use was justified, he said.(Source: Reuters, Nov 2004)

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Posted On: 23 November, 2004
Modified On: 7 December, 2013


Created by: myVMC