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Balance needed in reporting about Arthrem

20 February 2018

Balance needed in news reporting of Medsafe advisory about Arthrem

The makers of the Arthrem joint support product are calling for balanced news reporting around the recent Medsafe advisory relating to Arthrem's active ingredient, Artemisia annua.

Although some news media have provided balanced information, others have chosen to use sensationalised headlines and one-sided reporting that suggest consumers are at far greater risk than they actually are.

Rene de Wit, Promisia's Chief Executive says: "To put things into context, Medsafe received 14 reports of liver toxicity associated with the use of Arthrem, from February 2016 up until 31 December 2017. Hundreds of thousands of bottles of Arthrem have been sold over the past five years and the reported adverse liver reactions constitute less than 0.007% of all bottles sold (i.e. under 1 in 14,000) – a level the World Health Organization's adverse reactions guidelines consider to be "very rare".

All the affected people stopped taking Arthrem and at the time of reporting most had already recovered or were improving.

Mr de Wit says that when taken as directed, Arthrem is safe and effective.

"Safety is – and has always been - our top priority. This is borne out by Arthrem being the world's only clinically trialled and safety trialled Artemisia annua joint support product."

Both trials were conducted by Otago University, and published in peer-reviewed journals (Clinical Rheumatology and New Zealand Medical Journal). The clinical trial informed the product formulation and dosage advice.

He says that although he has no issue with Medsafe issuing advisories, Artemisia annua is also used in several other joint support brands sold in New Zealand.

"We believe that the consumer would be better served by advisories about ingredients themselves rather than just focusing on one product with that ingredient."

He notes that Arthrem, rather than a competitor brand, has come to Medsafe's attention simply because it has been on the market longer and has a far larger market share.

"A large volume of any product sold – even every day foods such as fruit and vegetables – will always bring with it a chance that someone will have a reaction to it. In Arthrem's case, despite what some media would have one believe, it is very rare for users to have an adverse liver reaction."

Consumers can be assured that it is perfectly safe to keep taking Arthrem provided the person is not suffering adverse effects or has any contraindicated condition/s. However, Arthrem is not suitable for:

People who have elevated liver enzymes, liver disease or liver cancer
Anyone who is pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding
People who are taking antiretroviral drugs for HIV
Anyone who is taking drugs that are known to prolong QT interval

It is important that Arthrem is taken strictly as directed. Anyone experiencing any adverse reactions should stop taking it immediately and consult with their doctor. Adverse reactions may include (but are not limited to):

nausea (feeling sick)
stomach pain
pale stools (poos)
dark urine
itching all-over
the whites of the eyes have turned yellow or the skin is yellow (jaundice)

Anyone with questions or concerns can call Arthrem's toll-free 24 x 7 helpline (0800 995 034).


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