Prescribing Advice for GPs

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Glucosamine ineffective for hip OA

The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a randomised trial into the efficacy of glucosamine sulphate in reducing symptoms and structural damage in osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip.

The study recruited 222 patients who were randomised to blinded treatment with 1,500mg of glucosamine sulphate daily or matching placebo. Data were collected for a period of 2 years for primary outcome measures including pain and function assessments (using Western Ontario and McMaster Universities scales) and joint space narrowing.

The study failed to detect any statistical or clinically meaningful differences between the two study groups for any outcomes. Pain and function assessments were not statistically different and use of analgesics was not lower in the glucosamine group.

The study was limited by a significant number of hip replacements being undertaken in study participants during the course of the study. An analysis of the impact of this limitation has identified that a statistical difference may have been hidden however this difference would have been clinically unimportant.

Action: Clinicians should avoid prescribing glucosamine sulphate for OA of the hip.

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