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Arthritis painkillers carry low risk:study

Press Association logoPress Association 5/10/2016

The risks posed by the prescribed use of the most common types of painkiller for arthritis are relatively low, a large international study has concluded.

Scientists in the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands studied more than 7000 people to assess the safety of two types of medication.

They compared the safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) - such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen - with a newer class of more targeted drugs called COX2 inhibitors, which include celecoxib.

It followed concerns from doctors and patients over the long-term effect of NSAIDs on the stomach and gut, and concerns over whether COX2 drugs might be associated with increased cardiovascular diseases.

Experts said the trial found the use of either NSAIDS or celecoxib was associated with "only a low rate of the cardiovascular problems studied".

Furthermore, "gastrointestinal adverse effects studied were very rare indeed", they concluded.

Those involved in the project said the findings should reassure patients and doctors.

Study chief investigator Professor Tom MacDonald, of the University of Dundee's school of medicine, said: "If you need to take these medicines for arthritis pains and you have no history of heart attack or stroke, then either type of medicine seems acceptably safe.

"These results offer significant reassurance to the many patients taking these medicines and can give increased confidence to the doctors prescribing these drugs."

The SCOT study (Standard care versus Celecoxib Outcome Trial) is published in the European Heart Journal.

It was sponsored by Dundee University, with a research grant from Pfizer USA.

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