New hurdle in osteoarthritis pain management
TWO million Australians suffering from osteoarthritis will now have to consult their pharmacists before purchasing modified release paracetamol.
This followed a decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday to up-schedule modified release paracetamol from schedule 2 to schedule 3 ‘Pharmacist Only’.
“This means they will have to speak to their pharmacist first for advice before purchasing this medication,” Glenella pharmacist and pain management expert Joyce McSwan said, as she welcomed the move.
The TGA’s decision followed an August 2018 review over the misuse of the pain medication which had been attributed to consumers not following the use directions of modified release paracetamol.
“Ordinary paracetamol is for moderate pain relief whereas modified release paracetamol is for sustained relief over a longer period,” Ms McSwan said.
“The painkiller is used for other chronic pain too not just for osteoarthritis.”
“Overdose with paracetamol, whether intentional or accidental, is common in Australia and in many other countries,” the TGA review reported.
“Unless managed well there is a high risk of liver damage and death after paracetamol overdose.”
In 2016, there were 8241 cases of paracetamol overdose reported to the NSW Poisons Information Centre, and 818 of those involved modified release paracetamol products,” the TGA report found.
Paracetamol is also the single most commonly-taken drug in overdoses that lead to hospital presentation and admission.
Lonergan Research found that many pain sufferers expressed dissatisfaction with the pain relief offered by their current treatment.
Thirty-two per cent of people who took over-the-counter medications to assist with pain relief of their osteoarthritis expressed dissatisfaction with their treatment.
More than half, or 57 per cent, of people with osteoarthritis described their pain as unmanageable.
Ms McSwan recommended that some of those with osteoarthritis trial an oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, like ibuprofen, to manage flare-up pain, which can help reduce the inflammation that is often the underlying cause of acute pain with osteoarthritis.
“However, losing weight is the number one way to help osteoarthritis as is very gentle movement, which creates lubrication between joints,” Ms McSwan said.