Results of new study into low-back pain don’t justify change in paracetamol guidelines

24 July 2014

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24 July 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today suggested that the results of a new study into the use of paracetamol for acute low-back pain do not justify a change in paracetamol guidelines.

This was in response to research published in The Lancet about results from The Paracetamol for Low-Back Pain Study (PACE). 1

The study, which was completed by the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, randomly assigned 1652 individuals with acute low-back pain to receive up to four weeks of paracetamol in regular doses (three times a day), paracetamol as needed, or placebo. All participants received advice and reassurance and were followed-up for three months. The results showed no difference in the number of days to recovery between the treatment groups and placebo group.

ASMI Director Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Steve Scarff, said: "ASMI welcomes new research which adds to the body of knowledge about the management of acute low-back pain. However, the results should be assessed against the background of previous research on paracetamol in acute mild to moderate pain.

"In an editorial in the same edition of the journal, Bart Koes and Wendy Enthoven from Erasmus MC, University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands wrote that the content of guidelines should not be changed on the basis of a single trial and that further research is needed.2

"We need to bear in mind the overwhelming body of research which demonstrates the effective use of paracetamol for pain management. More research is needed," Mr Scarff concluded.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
Public Relations Manager
Australian Self Medication Industry
9923 9410; 0408 256 381;

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.

1. Williams, al. Efficacy of paracetamol for acute low-back pain: a double-blind, randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 24 July 2014. The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 24 July 2014. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60805-9.
2. Koes, B. and Enthoven, W. Do patients with acute low-back pain need paracetamol? The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 24 July 2014. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60978-8.