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New research to reduce drug side-effects
Date:7/10/2009

They are a group of drugs which millions of people rely on to keep pain at bay but they can have unwanted side-effects which are sometimes more serious than the original health problem. Now scientists at The University of Nottingham are taking part in the largest-ever study on the safety of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) that has ever been performed.

The project is called SOS (Safety Of non-Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and will study the medical information of 35 million people in Europe to assess the incidence and nature of harmful side-effects on the cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems of patients. It's hoped the results will lead to better guidance for doctors on how to balance the advantages of prescribing the drugs with the associated risks of heart and digestive problems.

NSAIDS are widely used in medicine for treating pain, inflammation and degenerative diseases like arthritis. The most commonly-used are aspirin and ibuprofen. But their use is associated with an increased risk of minor and serious gastrointestinal complications. It's estimated that there are thousands of these cases in the European Union every year. Prompted by these problems, a new class of NSAIDS called 'Coxibs' have been developed to reduce the risk of this type of side-effect, but the use of these new drugs has since been linked with an increased risk of heart problems such as heart attack and stroke.

Clinicians and scientists now agree that the risk of stomach problems has to be balanced against the risk of cardiovascular interference. Both risks may differ in one person and for the 30 different types of NSAIDS available in the EU. Up to now research studies have been too small to be effective in terms of providing decision models for doctors and drug regulators but it's hoped this new large survey will result in a much more accurate prescription method to minimize drug-related harm.

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Contact: Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox
julia.h-cox@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-584-66915
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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