Print Edition - 2019-02-07  |  Health and Living

Custom pain creams do little for pain relief

  • Drug effect

Feb 7, 2019-

Compounded pain creams are no better for chronic pain than topical treatments that contain no medicine at all, a US study suggests. Compounded medicines are custom-blended by pharmacists to give patients a different dose or formulation than they can get with mass-produced prescription drugs. The current study focused on pain creams made from medicines that are often prescribed for pain in pill form such as muscle relaxants, anticonvulsants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs.

Researchers randomly assigned 399 patients with different types of chronic pain to receive either a compounded cream containing an analgesic or a placebo cream without any medicine. After one month, 36 percent of patients who used pain creams and 28 percent who got placebo creams reported less pain than they had at the start, a difference that was too small to rule out the possibility that it was due to chance.

“We know from other studies that some of the agents (lidocaine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be effective for certain types of acute and chronic pain, so it is surprising that the difference here did not reach statistical significance in any of the pain types,” said senior study author Dr. Steven Cohen, a pain researcher at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Published: 07-02-2019 11:30

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