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Prescription Chondroitin May Help Knee Osteoarthritis

European drug is not the same as supplement available in U.S., study says

FRIDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term use of chondroitins 4 and 6 sulfate (CS) appears to slow the worsening and ease the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee, a new study says.

The European study, published in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that people who used CS over two years lost less joint space -- with few showing an increase in joint space width -- and had less pain than those on a placebo. The decrease of pain was most significant in the first year the participants took the drug.

CS was well-tolerated by its users, who experienced no more adverse effects than those on the placebo, the study found.

While other chondroitin sulfate products are sold as dietary supplements in the United States, prescription CS is used in many European countries to help slow osteoarthritis. The study authors, led by Andre Kahan of the University of Paris Descartes in France, noted that the findings do not apply to non-prescription chondroitin sulfate products or compounds.

"Further studies with longer follow-up and different outcome criteria are warranted to assess whether the beneficial structural changes associated with CS demonstrated in our study are predictive of improvement in the long-term clinical progression of OA," the authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about osteoarthritis.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Wiley-Blackwell, news release, Jan. 29, 2009

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