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New formulation of ibuprofen shown to relieve joint pain

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Arthritis Research UK has welcomed research showing that a new over-the-counter painkiller can help relieve joint pain.

The lipid-ibuprofen soft capsules, which are available in UK pharmacies under the brand name Flarin, have the potential to offer a new first-line option for the self-management of flaring joint pain, according to a study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

Researchers tested the treatment in a double-blind, randomised trial involving 462 patients with episodic knee pain flares.

Results showed that lipid-formulated ibuprofen, taken at a dose of 1,200 mg per day, was just as effective as prescription-strength ibuprofen at 2,400 mg per day at relieving flaring joint pain.

According to the researchers, 86% of people who took the new treatment had an improvement after five days, with a reduction in stiffness and swelling. They also reported fewer incidences of drug-related adverse gastrointestinal events compared to those taking regular ibuprofen capsules.

The product uses lipid-formulation technology to encase the active ingredient in a lipid coating, and is absorbed through the lymphatic part of the immune system, which protects the stomach from damage.

Study author Philip Conaghan, professor of musculoskeletal medicine at the University of Leeds, said: “We now have good clinical evidence to show that combining ibuprofen in a lipid formulation can provide effective flare-up control.”

Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, added: “We’re really pleased to see more treatment options enter the market for people with arthritis, offering an alternative solution to help manage the daily pain and in this case, potentially reduce side effects.

“We’d encourage anyone struggling with pain management to speak to their doctor or a health professional, who will be able to work with them to develop a plan incorporating medication, pain management techniques and exercise.”