Increased Drug Information Welcomed By Patient Organisation

Updated safety advice will boost informed patient choice, says Arthritis Care, welcoming  the new instruction by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) for pharmaceutical manufacturers to update information on the risks and benefits of recently-reviewed drugs. The order from the government’s drug watchdog follows a European review of the safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The review found a small increase in risk of heart attack and stroke associated with some medications commonly prescribed for the pain and swelling experienced by people with arthritis.  

“There is always some risk associated with taking any drug. What’s important is that doctors and patients have the most accurate, up-to-date information to assist them in balancing that risk against the benefits.  Fully informed choice  means exactly what it says on the tin: having all the information, weighing the pros and cons with your doctor, and deciding  what’s appropriate treatment for you”, said Neil Betteridge, Arthritis Care’s chief executive.  

The  review did not question the importance of NSAIDs like diclofenac and ibuprofen in the management of arthritis, but noted the increased thrombotic risk when used in high doses and long-term.   

“No medication is without its side-effects. But many people with arthritis experience so much pain that they often have to take something just to keep going. The review findings underline that it is vital to keep searching for a cure for arthritis, which affects some nine million people in the UK, and also vital that research continues into producing effective painkillers with minimal risk factors  risk”, said Mr Betteridge.

The deadline by which drug manufacturers must comply with  the MHRA’s order to update production information is still under discussion.