Natural alternatives to osteoarthritis drug

The recall of Vioxx should come as a major sign of the need to look for safer alternatives for osteoarthritis treatment, according to the Director of the Australian Centre for complementary Medicine Education and Research (ACCMER), Professor Stephen Myers.

The multinational pharmaceutical company Merck and Co on Friday announced a world wide recall of its widely utilised osteoarthritis drug Vioxx (refecoxib) due to an increased risk of people using the drug to suffer for heart attacks and stroke.

"The Cox-2 inhibitor drugs hailed as a breakthrough in osteoarthritis have failed to deliver the gastrointestinal benefits that they promised," said Professor Myers said.

"On top of this, there is now evidence of serious cardiovascular risks".

Professor Myers said the complementary medicine glucosamine sulphate was a natural alternative to Vioxx.

"This is a natural product found in healthy cartilage, which has been shown in multiple clinical trials to be an effective agent for treating osteoarthritis," he said.

"Most importantly it is safe and has an exemplary safety record".

Professor Myers said the Cox-2 inhibitors are widely prescribed in Australia for osteoarthritis.

"This is the case even though the evidence suggests that they are no more effective then the older generation anti-inflammatory drugs, yet they cost 10-15 times as much."

The Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine Education and Research is a joint venture of The University of Queensland and Southern Cross University.

The Centre blends together the best of conventional and complementary medicine and acts as a clearinghouse for issues on complementary medicine in the community.

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