Glucosamine has traditionally been prescribed as a disease modulating agent in the management of osteoarthritis. However, the research evidence to date suggests that it has a limited impact on the clinical symptoms of the osteoarthritis including joint pain, radiological progression, function and quality of life.
Data from the national Health Service Executive Primary Care Reimbursement (HSE-PCRS) general medical services (GMS) Scheme was used to examine the prescribing patterns. The results of the study indicate that the national trend in prescribing of glucosamine increased significantly from 2002 to 2009 before decreasing in 2010 and 2011.
The rate of prescribing of glucosamine varied with sex, with women receiving significantly more prescriptions than men. The cost of glucosamine also increased from 2002 -2008, reaching a high of €4.6 million in 2008 before decreasing to €2.6 million in 2011. In September 2012, prescribing of glucosamine was suspended from the HSE-PCRS scheme, meaning that GPs can no longer prescribe glucosamine for patients at no cost.
Commenting on the study Rose Galvin, the lead researcher, said that ‘The findings are in keeping with current international guidelines and while the suspension of glucosamine from the GMS scheme is in keeping with the current evidence, glucosamine remains one of the most commonly prescribed complementary alternative medicines in the international context. Therefore, there is a need for awareness among healthcare professionals and patients alike of the best available evidence to inform decision making relating to the prescription and consumption of such supplements.’
Arthritis affects approximately 714,000 people in Ireland, accounting for one in three visits to general practitioners (GPs) . Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and is the leading cause of disability in the elderly . The prevalence of OA is expected to increase in the coming years as risk factors, such as an ageing population and obesity become more prevalent .
The full paper can be found at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/13/316
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