Supplements Fail To Help OA

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Supplements Fail To Relieve Joint Pain In Patients With Knee Or Hip Osteoarthritis.

The Associated Press reports, “Two popular supplements used to treat joint pain don’t work and health authorities should stop paying for them,” assert the authors of a new paper appearing in the British Medical Journal. After reviewing 10 trials, the researchers realized that they “failed to demonstrate a clinically significant benefit for patients with knee or hip osteoarthritis,” John Gever in Medpage Today reported.  “The more objective measurement of joint space narrowing also was not significantly improved with glucosamine or chondroitin,” the authors explained.

“Moreover, when benefits were found, they tended to be in industry-funded trials as opposed to those without commercial sponsorship.” Nevertheless, “the supplements are safe, the study researchers write,” (9/16, Martin) reported.   DeniseMann in WebMD reports,

Jason Theodosakis, MD, of the University of Arizona, said, “You have to ask yourself, would you take a supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin, have about two-thirds of a chance of getting significant relief, with some evidence that you can slow your disease progression, or just numb your symptoms with acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory drugs and risk ulcers, allergies, kidney or liver damage, hypertension, heart attacks and possibly death.”   He added, “The risk/benefit for glucosamine and chondroitin far outweighs that of the FDA-approved drugs for osteoarthritis.” I have to agree with Dr. Thodosakis. My wife and I both take these supplements.  If it is placebo effect, I don’t care.  All I know is I feel better when I take them and hurt when I don’t.

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Novel Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Shows Early Promise

Madonna Behna in HealthDay reported on a study of a new targeted medication for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).   The oral medication, fostamatinib or R788, is a spleen tyrosine kinase or (Syk) inhibitor.  It works to block specific pathways responsible for joint inflammation.It is similar to the breakthrough cancer drug Gleevec, which inhibits the growth of malignant cells.  “Our findings highlights the fact that there are other pathways that can be utilized in order to improve disease activity among people with rheumatoid arthritis,” said Dr. Michael E. Weinblatt, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the lead author of the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the clinical trial, patients with RA who took fostamatinib along with methotrexate were twice as likely as those taking methotrexate and a placebo to have a clinically significant improvement in their disease after six months of treatment. And, one third of the patients taking methotrexate and fostamatinib showed measurable benefits after just one week of therapy.

The most common side effects were diarrhea, which occurred in roughly 20 percent of those taking the active drug, and an increase in blood pressure, and a drop in white blood cell count.  I think this drug and other oral drugs called JAK kinase inhibitors will certainly be helpful for patients with RA.

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