Study: Topical NSAID for Osteoarthritis Safe and Effective

Move over, Bute. In a new independent study, researchers at Colorado State University's Gail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center concluded that diclofenac liposomal cream (1% diclofenac sodium, trade name Surpass) is safer and more effective than phenylbutazone for treating discomfort associated with osteoarthritis in horses.

Phenylbutazone, commonly known as "Bute," is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug administered systemically (i.e., intravenously or orally) to help control the pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis in horses.

"Considering that phenylbutazone and other NSAIDs are known to have important adverse effects in horses when used long-term and that these drugs are not able to alter the course of OA but only help control clinical signs, alternatives are needed," explained researcher David Frisbie, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS.

One such alternative is diclofenac liposomal cream--an NSAID that is applied to the skin overlying the affected joint(s) to control pain and inflammation of the tarsal, carpal, metacarpophalangeal, metatarsophalangeal and proximal interphalangeal joints. This product is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is the first product of its kind manufactured for horses.

Results of this study were presented at the 2007 annual American Association of Equine Practitioners' conference and were recently published in the study, "Evaluation of topically administered diclofenac liposomal cream for treatment of horses with experimentally induced osteoarthritis," in the February edition of the American Journal of Veterinary Research.

"This is the only study published to date that demonstrates that a topical NSAID can not only ameliorate the clinical signs of (osteoarthritis), but is capable of altering cartilage metabolism. That is, diclofenac liposomal cream possesses disease-modifying properties," summarized Frisbie.

About the Author

Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she's worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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