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Pain Patches Making Gains in U.S.
Date:1/21/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Americans suffering from muscle pain are used to taking a pill or rubbing in a cream to help soothe their aches.

But a new form of pain relief seems to be catching on: analgesics delivered through a medicated patch placed directly where it hurts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the country's first over-the-counter, pain-relieving transdermal patches in 2008. But the patches, marketed under the brand name Salonpas, are nothing new. They've been sold in various countries in Asia since the 1930s, according to their manufacturer, the Japanese firm Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical.

"Salonpas is the Western world catching up with Asia," said Dr. Rick Rosenquist, a professor of anesthesia and director of pain medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and chairman of the American Society of Anesthesiologists' committee on pain medicine.

"If you are an Asian kid, you've had these placed on you since time immemorial," he said. "It's just now starting to hit more mainstream in the United States. They're gaining more acceptance."

Before the FDA action, pain-relieving patches were available in the United States only by prescription, said Dr. John Dombrowski, director of the Washington Pain Center in Washington, D.C. Their active ingredients include such medications as lidocaine, capsaicin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. The active ingredients in Salonpas are methyl salicylate and menthol, common components of pain-relieving gels and creams, such as Bengay.

Pain patches have a number of benefits, Rosenquist and Dombrowski said, not the least of which is convenience. With a patch, you "put [it] on and forget about it, rather than having to remember to take pills," Dombrowski said.

The patches also deliver their medicine directly to the site of a person's pain. This may eliminate
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