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Study into safety of common over-the-counter drugs reaches milestone

   
   
A blister pack of white tablets
21 Mar 2012 14:38:01.200
PA 95/12

An international study into the safety of some of the most widely used medicines has reached a significant milestone by recruiting its 6,000th patient.

The SCOT study, involving researchers at The University of Nottingham, is comparing the safety of commonly prescribed, non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which include ibuprofen (Brufen®) and diclofenac (Voltarol®). The study has now managed to recruit 6,000 patients and 685 GP practices to the study, across Scotland, England, Denmark and The Netherlands.

It is hoped the findings of the study could benefit millions of arthritis sufferers around the world.
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Local principal investigator Professor Chris Hawkey of The University of Nottingham is running the SCOT study across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire, and is keen to continue recruitment to the SCOT study locally. So far, 70 GP practices and 650 patients are helping with this study in this region.

“This study is designed to answer an important scientific question, which has the potential to improve the care of the thousands of arthritis sufferers across the UK. It is the first large-scale safety study of its kind, and really will make a difference to future prescribing within primary care,” said Professor Hawkey.

Side effects

NSAIDS are the group of drugs most commonly prescribed to relieve the joint pains associated with arthritis. Often they do that job well, which is why they are so popular, with millions of prescriptions written across the UK every year for NSAIDs, not counting all those sold over‐the‐counter in pharmacies and shops. However, like all drugs, NSAIDs can have side effects. These include irritation of the digestive system and effects on blood pressure and the heart.

A more recent group of NSAIDs called ‘Cox‐2 inhibitors’ was developed, which have been shown to be less harsh on the digestive system than the most popular existing NSAIDs, leading to fewer stomach ulcers and bleeding.

The question to be answered by the SCOT study is whether one of these new drugs, Celecoxib (Celebrex) has similar or dissimilar effects on the cardiovascular system as the older drugs. The study formally tests the hypothesis that Celecoxib is no different from the older NSAIDs.

The current patent for Celecoxib expires in 2014, allowing the drug to be produced generically and sold at a significantly lower price, slashing the price the NHS has to pay. This is about the time that the SCOT study is due to publish its results.

The study is being led by The University of Dundee, which is aiming to secure continued funding to finish the study and publish the findings, allowing doctors and people with arthritis to make the best choice, not just for their joint pains but also for their general health.

Best health choices

The project is supported by nine other Universities across Scotland, England, Denmark and The Netherlands, having recently expanded to include The University of Oxford, and Kings College London.

Professor Tom MacDonald, chief investigator on the study and Director of the Medicines Monitoring Unit at the University of Dundee, said: “This information will be of great value to everyone who needs to take these drugs on a regular basis, which is millions of people around the world. The findings will allow doctors and people with arthritis to make the best choice, not just for their joint pains but also for their general health.”

Professor MacDonald and the SCOT study steering committee, which is made up of leading international experts, hope further funding may be granted to the project to extend recruitment into 2014, allowing the generation of significant extra data.

GP practices are still welcome to join the study. Any GP practice interested in taking part in the SCOT study can check the website for details (www.scottrial.co.uk or info@scottrial.co.uk) or contact their local Primary Care Research Network.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has 40,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Chris Hawkey on +44 (0)115 823 1053, cj.hawkey@nottingham.ac.uk
  Emma Thorne

Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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