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Randomised controlled trials

Chondroitin sulfate alleviates symptoms in knee osteoarthritis

Study shows positive effects of medicine in managing pain and improving mobility in patients with osteoarthritis.

Recently, the use of analgesics to treat symptoms of knee osteoarthritis (OA) has been challenged on the grounds of low efficacy and side effects.

A randomised controlled trial, published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases[1] (online, 22 May 2017), assessed the use of pharmaceutical-grade chondroitin sulfate (CS) in the management of symptomatic knee OA. In the study, 199 patients received pharmaceutical-grade CS, 199 received the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib, and 205 received placebo.

The researchers discovered that both CS and celecoxib reduced pain and improved function more than placebo at six months but found no difference between the effects of the two drugs.

CS has potential importance for management of knee OA, but the effects obtained with pharmaceutical-grade CS cannot be extrapolated to over-the-counter preparations, which differ substantially in terms of their pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, the researchers conclude.

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2017.20202938

Readers' comments (1)

  • It is not easy to discover exactly what the supposed differences are between the "pharmaceutical-grade" chondroitin sulfate used in this study and the allegedly inferior "nutraceutical-grade" materials used in earlier studies. Neither this study nor any of the earlier cited studies provides any meaningful comparative analytical data on the chemical compositions of the chondroitin sulfate products used. The reader is simply asked to accept that "Chemical analysis of purity and active ingredient content of a randomly selected sample of the active study treatment capsules was conducted by an independent laboratory (Chemika, Australia) immediately after delivery of each batch of study treatment capsules to the dispatching centre. At each analysis, purity and stated active ingredient content was confirmed." I would characterise this as a serious failure in both the reporting of these studies and in the peer review of this and the earlier manuscripts!

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Supplementary images

  • Xray showing knee osteoarthritis

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