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Arthritis drug alert.


A campaign is underway by the Arthritis Foundation to alert the public to the potential risks of gastric ulcers from the continued use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs, used regularly by arthritis patients, relieve pain and inflammation. Unfortunately, they can also produce "silent" ulcers that cause no pain or symptoms until bleeding occurs and/or the stomach wall perforates. The foundation says the incidence of gastric ulcers in chronic users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) is estimated at somewhere between 10 and 20 percent, based on several published reports.

"The drugs are the mainstay of arthritis therapy throughout the world," says Dr. Arthur Grayzel, the foundation's senior vice president for medical affairs. "It is important for people taking these drugs to understand the possible risks and be aware of the potential for ulcers and what can be done to prevent and treat them."

In February, the Federal Drug Administration issued a revision in the wording of prescription drug inserts. The inserts now must state that "gastrointestinal damage can occur without causing symptoms in persons taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs." The only drug currently approved by the FDA to prevent ulcers stemming from NSAID use is misoprostol (brand name Cytotec), a medication available only by prescription. The foundation urges regular users of NSAIDS to discuss concerns about possible ulcers with their physicians. In the meantime, it will be making radio-and-TV public service announcements, as well as providing a toll-free telephone number for consumers to use in getting physician referrals and notification of local Arthritis Foundation services. (American Medical News, April 14, 1989; p. 11.)
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Title Annotation:non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 1989
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