ASMI recommends OTC NSAIDs be taken for short term pain relief

02 July 2014

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2 July 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today recommended that over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) be taken at the recommended dose for short term pain relief.

This was in response to an Australian study published in the journal PAIN which revealed that prescribing practices for NSAIDs do not align with specific clinical practice guidelines for safe use in older people. This cross-sectional study examined the patterns of NSAIDs use according to pain prevalence and compliance with specific clinical guidelines for safe NSAIDs use in older people in relation to duration of use, patterns of use, use of proton pump inhibitors and prevalence of specific drug interactions. 1

The study of 1700 men aged over 70 years of age found that 8.2 per cent of participants reported regular NSAID use compared with 2.9 per cent reporting as needed use. The mean treatment duration for regular NSAIDs use was 4.9 years, suggesting long term rather than the short term use recommended by the guidelines.

However, the authors acknowledged that the study design did not allow assessment of the clinical appropriateness of deviating treatment from the clinical guidelines. The patients using NSAIDs were not found to have a higher level of comorbidities that relatively contraindicate NSAID use compared with non-users.

ASMI Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Steve Scarff said: "Consumers normally take OTC NSAIDs at a much lower dose and for a shorter period of time than is being examined in this study of prescription NSAIDs.

"NSAIDs are one of the most widely used medicines for pain and inflammation and they have a well-known safety profile, particularly at recommended doses.
"It is important that consumers do not confuse the safety profiles of OTC NSAIDs with those of prescription NSAIDs. The lower dose of OTC NSAIDs and their short term use means that their safety profile is different to their higher dose, prescription counterpart.
"OTC NSAIDs are commonly used to provide pain relief for common problems such as headache, toothache, sprains and strains. They are intended for short-term use only, normally under a week.

"In Australia, rigorous controls on the registration and labelling of OTC NSAIDs are in place. They are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for short-term use at low doses for self-limiting conditions and there are warnings on the label for anyone who is in a high risk category such as the elderly and people with heart problems or liver disease.

"It is important that consumers follow the instructions on the label and only use the medicine as directed.

"As with any medicine, consumers are encouraged to seek advice from their healthcare professional on appropriate use of medicines," said Mr Scarff.

About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines. Its members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn self care market. Membership totals 60 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 18,000 people with exports estimated at $1.2 billion annually. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

Gnnjidic, D et al. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in older people: prescribing patterns according to pain prevalence and adherence to clinical guidelines. PAIN, published online 23 June 2014.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
M:0408 256 381 E: