OTC NSAIDs have a role in treatment of acute pain

03 February 2017

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The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) stated today that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and diclofenac remain a suitable choice for relief of acute pain for most people.

This statement was in response to reporting of an Australian study at the George Institute for Global Health, which looked at the effect of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on back pain.

"This study has no impact on whether you should take OTC (over-the-counter) NSAIDs for short-term, acute pain," says ASMI Director Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Steve Scarff. "The millions of Australians who have experienced relief from acute pain through the short-term use of NSAIDs as directed on the label can continue to have confidence in their choice of product."

OTC NSAIDs have a long history of use and remain one of the top-selling categories of OTC medications. The labels of these products clearly direct consumers that these medications are for short-term use only (typically 3-5 days). These products are appropriate for and intended for use in minor conditions that can be self-diagnosed by consumers and usually do not require any further medical intervention. These include, but are not limited to, muscular pain, arthritic pain, headache, dental pain and back pain.

Label instructions for OTC NSAIDs always direct consumers to consult a healthcare professional if pain relief is inadequate or if pain persists.

Persistent or chronic pain should always be managed through consultation with a healthcare professional, who will assess the risks and benefits of drug treatments and make recommendations for the multi-faceted approach to treatment (e.g. exercise physiology, physiotherapy, etc.) that is often required for these conditions.