Drug That Eases Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Won't Help 'Regular' Arthritis

Drug That Eases Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain Won't Help 'Regular' Arthritis

A malaria drug that's also shown effectiveness against rheumatoid arthritis pain has failed to help people with the more common form of arthritis, new research shows.

Sign Up & Receive Your Personalized MedCircle Digest Delivered To Your Inbox.
Join today!

The drug is called Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), explained one expert who wasn't connected to the new study.

"Plaquenil was first used to treat malaria but was later found to also have beneficial effects in patients with inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid and lupus," said Dr. Steven Beldner. He directs the New York Hand and Wrist Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"It is believed that it modulates some of the immune cells to reduce the body's attack on joints," Beldner added.

"There have been debates among physicians about whether [the drug] was effective for the treatment of osteoarthritis, which is not an autoimmune condition," he noted.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritic joint pain.

According to the researchers behind the new study, hand osteoarthritis affects up to 31 percent of people over 70 and up to 15 percent of those older than 60. The pain can be debilitating and there are few effective treatments.

Plaquenil has been used as an "off-label" treatment -- meaning it's approved for uses other than to treat osteoarthritic hand pain -- but there's been little evidence about its effectiveness.

This British study included 248 patients with hand osteoarthritis. They took either Plaquenil or a placebo for a year while receiving usual care.

The result: The drug "was no more effective than placebo for pain relief in patients with moderate to severe hand pain," the study authors concluded. The research was led by Sarah Kingsbury, of the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Medicine in Leeds, England.

The researchers said Plaquenil may not be effective in these patients because much of their hand pain may be due to tendon problems rather than arthritis.

Beldner believes the findings may lay to rest the debate over this drug's usefulness in osteoarthritis.

Sign Up & Receive Your Personalized MedCircle Digest Delivered To Your Inbox.
Join today!

"This well-designed recent study" suggests that Plaquenil "should not be used for osteoarthritis," he said.

The study was funded by Arthritis Research UK and published Feb. 19 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

More information

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


Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

Can Smartphones Trigger ADHD Symptoms in Teens?
Can Smartphones Trigger ADHD Symptoms in Teens?

Teenagers who constantly use their smartphones may have a heightened risk of dev...

Read more
Brain Scans Yield More Clues to Autism
Brain Scans Yield More Clues to Autism

Children with autism show abnormalities in a deep brain circuit that typically m...

Read more
How the Office Seating Chart Affects Your Productivity
How the Office Seating Chart Affects Your Productivity

In my days working in an office, I was always most content when I worked by a wi...

Read more
What Your Social Media Posts Say About Your Drinking Habits
What Your Social Media Posts Say About Your Drinking Habits

Picture this: It’s the Friday afternoon of what has been a particularly stressfu...

Read more
Alzheimer's Risk 10 Times Lower With Herpes Medication
Alzheimer's Risk 10 Times Lower With Herpes Medication

Last month, Medical News Today reported on a study that found "strong evidence" ...

Read more