Author(s): Adebajo A
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Osteoarthritis is a common presentation in primary care, and non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (sometimes also referred to as traditional NSAIDs or tNSAIDs) and selective cyclo-oxygenase 2 inhibitors (COX-2 inhibitors) are commonly used to treat it. The UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends taking patient risk factors into account when selecting a tNSAID or a COX-2 inhibitor, but GPs have lacked practical guidance on assessing patient risk. METHODS: A multi-disciplinary group that included primary care professionals (PCPs) developed an evidence-based consensus statement with an accompanying flowchart that aimed at providing concise and specific guidance on NSAID use in osteoarthritis treatment. An open invitation to meet and discuss the issue was made to relevant healthcare professionals in South Yorkshire. A round table meeting was held that used a modified nominal group technique, aimed at generating opinions and ideas from all stakeholders in the consensus process. A draft developed from this meeting went through successive revisions until a consensus was achieved. RESULTS: Four statements on the use of tNSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors (and an attached category of evidence) were agreed: 1) tNSAIDs are effective drugs in relieving pain and immobility associated with osteoarthritis. COX-2 inhibitors are equally effective; 2) tNSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors vary in their potential gastrointestinal, liver, and cardio-renal toxicity. This risk varies between individual treatments within both groups and is increased with dose and duration of treatment; 3) COX-2 inhibitors are associated with a significantly lower gastrointestinal toxicity compared to tNSAIDs. Co-prescribing of aspirin reduces this advantage; 4) PPIs should always be considered with a tNSAID and with a COX-2 inhibitor in higher GI risk patients. An accompanying flowchart to guide management was also agreed. CONCLUSIONS: Individual patient risk is an important factor in choice of treatment for patients with osteoarthritis and the consensus statement developed offers practical guidance for GPs and others in primary care. Where there are clinical uncertainties, guidance developed and agreed by local clinicians has a role to play in improving patient management.
This article was published in BMC Fam Pract
and referenced in Emergency Medicine: Open Access