ASMI says over-the-counter pain medicines are for short term use

10 April 2014

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10 April 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today reassured consumers that over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) continue to play an important role for temporary relief of pain.
ASMI Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Steve Scarff, was responding to a research study published in the British Medical Journal Open1 that found an association between prescription NSAIDs and increased risk of atrial fibrillation. The study was performed within the Rotterdam Study, which is examining the onset of, and risk factors for, disease in older adults. 2

"Importantly, this study did not demonstrate any increase in atrial fibrillation risk in patients who were currently using an NSAID for fewer than 15 days. This duration is much longer than the recommended use of any over-the-counter (OTC) NSAID.
"While the study suggests an association between prescription NSAIDs and increased risk of atrial fibrillation, it does not demonstrate that the NSAIDs caused the atrial fibrillation.

"The study population was older, with an average age of 68.5 years. At this age people may have multiple medical conditions that may themselves contribute to the development of atrial fibrillation. The authors note that NSAID use could be an indicator of underlying inflammatory conditions that may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, rather than the atrial fibrillation being caused by the NSAID use.

"OTC medicines must undergo a rigorous evaluation process before they are made available for use in Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) imposes strict labelling requirements that advise consumers on how to correctly use the medicine.

"NSAID labels in Australia include a warning that people aged over 65 should consult with their healthcare practitioner before taking the medication.

"It is important that consumers read labels carefully and strictly follow all the directions. If the pain or other symptoms persist consumers should consult with their healthcare practitioner," said Mr Scarff.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
P: 9923 9410 M:0408 256 381 E:

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 17,000 people with exports estimated at $600 million 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 (

1. Ktijthe, B. et al. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the risk of atrial fibrillation: a population-based follow up study. British Medical Journal Open 2014: 4:e004059.
2. Hofman, A. et al. The Rotterdam Study: 2012 objectives and design update. Eur J Epidemiol 2011: 26:657-86.