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Anti-Inflammatory Medications

21 July 2009 5 Comments

I wanted to do a short article on the recent findings with respect to common anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). You may or may not have heard that a number of these drugs have had warnings issued regarding their use after research discovered they had the potential to have serious side effects.

Talking to patients, I felt that not enough people were aware of the current state of affairs.

These are medications you may have had prescribed or bought over the counter for arthritis, back pain, headaches, sports injuries and many other everyday complaints.

Voltaren (Diclofenac) is the most recent. On September 15, 2006, the National Prescribing Service (NPS) released a statement outlining the findings of a recent study and its recommendations based on that.

The study showed a 40% increase in risk of serious cardiovascular event compared with people not using NSAIDs.

The NPS was very hesitant to suggest people should stop using Voltaren (and other drugs containing Dicolfenac) based just on this one study. Their advice was for each patient to be assessed individually, as switching to other drugs may complicate other conditions they have, such as gastrointestinal complaints.

In other bad news for NSAIDs, in September 2004 Vioxx, was withdrawn from the market world-wide because medical trials had shown a significantly increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Celebrex and Mobic have also had warnings issued for their use (keep doses below 200mg and 15mg a day respectively).

The NPS recommends Paracetamol as the first choice for pain relief and only step up to NSAIDs if it doesn’t help.

For those using any of this class of medications, discuss this with your GP or pharmacist. Or contact me at any time if you have any questions.

Take home message: If an anti-inflammatory is necessary, it should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest time possible.

The full article can be found at www.nps.org.au