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Over-the-counter pain medicines fine for short term use

NZSMI says over-the-counter pain medicines fine for short term use

11 April 2014 – The New Zealand Self Medication Industry (SMI) today reassured consumers that over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) continue to play an important role for temporary relief of pain.

SMI executive director Tim Roper was responding to a research study published in the British Medical Journal Open 1 that found an association between prescription NSAIDs and increased risk of atrial fibrillation. The study was performed within the Rotterdam Study, which is examining the onset of, and risk factors for, disease in older adults. 2

“Importantly, this study did not demonstrate any increase in atrial fibrillation risk in patients who were currently using an NSAID for fewer than 15 days. The duration is much longer than the recommended use of any over-the-counter NSAIDs.

“While the study suggests an association between prescription NSAIDs and increased risk of atrial fibrillation, it does not demonstrate that the NSAIDs caused the atrial fibrillation.

“The study population was older, with an average age of 68.5 years. At this average age people have multiple medical conditions that may themselves contribute to the development of atrial fibrillation.The authors note that NSAID use could be an indicator of underlying inflammatory conditions that may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation rather than the atrial fibrillation being caused by the NSAID use.

“OTC medicines must undergo a rigorous evaluation process before they are made available for use in New Zealand and Government regulator Medsafe imposes strict labelling requirements that advise consumers on how to correctly use the medicine.

“It is important that consumers read labels carefully and strictly follow all the directions. If the pain or other symptoms persist consumers should consult with their healthcare practitioner,” said Mr Roper.


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