New Osteoarthritis Drug Slows Cartilage Wear?

The Holy Grail for osteoarthritis treatment is a disease modifying osteoarthritis drug.  This article talks about one possibility.

Kevin Deane writing in MedScape reported on a study from Belgium published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, called SEKOIA, Yves Reginster and colleagues used strontiumstrontium ranelate at either 1 or 2 g daily compared with placebo in 1371 patients with grade 2 or 3 knee osteoarthritis, as defined by Kellgren and Lawrence, with a joint space width of 2.5-5 mm. Patients were followed for 3 years, and outcomes included x-ray changes in joint space width, overall health related to osteoarthritis as measured by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) score, and pain as measured on a visual analog scale.

Treatment with strontium ranelate at a daily dose of 1 or 2 g was associated with a statistically smaller reduction in joint space width on plain x-rays. Treatment with the 2-g/day dose was also associated with improved health status related to osteoarthritis, as measured by the overall WOMAC score (P = .045) and a WOMAC subscore of pain (P = .028). The WOMAC subscore for physical function and knee pain as measured by the visual analog scale trended toward improvement in patients treated with the 2-g/day dose but did not reach statistical significance.

Reginster and colleagues concluded that treatment with strontium ranelate at daily doses of 1 or 2 g is associated with a significant reduction in progression of radiographic joint space width, and at 2 g/day with an effect on overall health associated with osteoarthritis.

Comment: Strontium may be effective.  It is already used to treat osteoporosis in Europe.  However, it has potential side effects including: deep vein thrombosis and a potentially fatal skin condition called Drug Rash with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS syndrome)

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