Madrid, Spain, 12 June 2013: A new study presented today at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, shows that one in eight patients at risk of developing a serious adverse drug event (ADE) is taking over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), often to treat a musculoskeletal complaint.
Of these high risk OTC NSAID users, over one-third had taken the medication for more than 7 days, and 3% had exceeded the maximum recommended daily dosage.
Patients were considered at high risk of a serious ADE from OTC NSAIDs if they had a history of a peptic ulcer or ulcer complication, myocardial infarction, stroke or heart failure, were aged over 70 years, had a glomerular filtration rate < 30ml/L, or had a combination of two or more of the following: use of an anticoagulant, aspirin, corticosteroid or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; age 60-70 years; history of severe rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes mellitus.
Possible serious ADEs include gastrointestinal bleeding, peptic ulceration, high blood pressure and worsening heart failure.
"NSAIDs tend to be regarded by patients as harmless painkillers. However, in reality, even those available over the counter can cause a number of unpleasant side effects," said lead author of the study Aafke Koffeman of the Department Of General Practice, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands.
"In most cases, it is likely to be ignorance of these potential ADEs rather than a deliberate disregard of the risks and contraindications", Ms Koffeman speculated. "These new data highlight the importance of healthcare professionals continuing to inform their patients of the risks of taking OTC NSAIDs, particularly where a new diagnosis or prescription increases their individual risk. High risk patients with painful musculoskeletal complaints should be advised to take safer alternative painkillers," she concluded.
|Contact: EULAR Press Office|
European League Against Rheumatism