Patients with osteoarthritis of the knee who were treated with high-quality, prescription-grade chondroitin got as much pain relief after six months as those treated having a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, a fresh clinical trial has found. They also showed similar improvements in function, such as the ability to walk distances in addition to perform daily activities.
As part of the trial, 604 patients with knee arthritis received either the NSAID drug celecoxib (brand name Celebrex, 0 milligrams a day), a dummy pill, or chondroitin (800 milligrams a day), a component of cartilage which cushions the joints in addition to is actually sold as a dietary supplement within the United States. Those on chondroitin or the NSAID fared better than those treated having a placebo, though the item took longer for chondroitin to work.
The study, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, was sponsored by IBSA Institut Biochimique SA, a Swiss drug company which markets the chondroitin formulation. The researchers say the trial protocol adhered to European regulatory guidelines for testing osteoarthritis drugs.
Previous studies of chondroitin have shown mixed results. The author of the study, Jean-Yves Reginster, a professor of public health, epidemiology in addition to health economics at Liege State University in Belgium, said the difference may be the formulation, since pharmaceutical-grade chondroitin is actually not available within the United States. The results obtained with one particular formulation “cannot be extrapolated to over-the-counter or generic products,” Dr. Reginster said.