Data from a survey of 1,056 Americans, funded by Iroko Pharmaceuticals, indicated that 77 percent experienced at least some type of pain, 43 percent experienced pain every week, and half were unfamiliar with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), a drug class that includes analgesic (pain-killing) and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effects, and, in higher doses, anti-inflammatory effects. Iroko is discussing the results of the survey with the Arthritis Foundation.
Among those who were familiar with NSAIDs, many were unable to identify NSAID brand names such as Excedrin, Aleve, or Advil. Approximately 33 percent reported that a high dose of medicine is needed to effectively treat their pain, and 31 percent said their pain was totally controlled. Of those surveyed, 34 percent said they disregard their pain, and 58 percent said they don’t discuss pain management with their physician.
About 58 percent of those surveyed said they were aware of the risks related with the use of NSAIDs. Of the total respondents who used pain drugs, 62 percent reported having at least one side effect. Overall, 48 percent of respondents said they were very confident about their pain drugs, while 52 percent reported a lack of awareness about low-dose pain medications.
The survey aimed to gain more understanding about how people are managing their pain, said Anita Gupta, D.O., Pharm.D., associate professor and vice chairman in the Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Pain Medicine and Regional Anesthesiology at Drexel University College of Medicine, in a recent news release.
“A lot of people don’t even know that there are low-dose options and many individuals are not even able to identify which drugs are NSAIDs,” Gupta said.
In 2005, the FDA issued a public health advisory recommending the use of NSAIDs at the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration of time, consistent with patient treatment goals. These recommendations are important because the use of NSAIDs is increasing. In 2012, there were more than 109 million prescriptions written for NSAIDs in the U.S. alone.
Gupta noted that patients with pain, particularly those with chronic pain, need to communicate effectively with their doctors about pain management and the potential side effects of NSAIDs.
“A lot of people are not talking to their doctor – one in three admit they are ignoring their pain,” Gupta said. “NSAIDs can be used safely, but there are safety concerns whether or not they are over-the-counter or by prescription. We need to make sure we’re talking to patients about how to safely use these medications.”
“NSAIDs can be powerful if used safely, and can be part of combination therapy. They can lower the amount needed for other options. Many patients are self-treating, so it’s important physicians have these conversations,” Gupta said.