Think NSAIDs are safe? Think again.

Many of us reach for over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen when we have minor aches and pains.

When that doesn’t work, our doctors prescribe other NSAIDs such as diclofenac and naproxen.


Naproxen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Related drugs, the COX IIs, like celecoxib are commonly prescribed for arthritis, back pain, and other sources of pain.

But are these drugs safe?

recent article by Dr. John LaMattina, the former president of Pfizer Global Research, noted that the cardiovascular risk of prescription Vioxx (rofecoxib) and diclofenac are roughly the same.

The difference?

Vioxx was taken off the market by the FDA, while diclofenac continues to be one of the most widely used NSAIDs on the market!

How can this possibly be? Given the tremendous furor over the COX-2 debate, one would think that a compound with a similar profile to Vioxx like diclofenac would be shunned. Perhaps the rationale for the continued use of diclofenac is rooted in the fact this drug has been on the market for 40 years and that physicians feel comfortable with it, despite the warnings. This differs from Vioxx which was introduced to the market in 1999. Support for this view comes from the popular TV host, Dr. Oz who said the following when discussing the safety of drugs with me on his show:

“Use generic drugs, because they’ve been around for a long time, they’re old drugs, and they’ve been used by so many people that we know about their side effects. And, they’re cheaper.” 

Unfortunately, this statement is a gross over simplification. 

LaMattina goes on to question the myth that older, generic drugs are safe simply because they’re been around for a long period of time. In a related article, researchers from the London School of Medicine conclude: 

Certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (e.g., rofecoxib [Vioxx]) increase the risk of heart attack and stroke and should be avoided in patients at high risk of cardiovascular events. 

This is exactly why it’s so important to look for safe options, such as topical pain relievers.

However, the most common complaint is that topical pain relievers don’t completely relieve the pain. And sometimes, this is true. Perhaps your pain is so intense that a topical pain reliever may not be enough.

However, topical pain relievers can still be valuable if they reduce the pain by 50%. Why? Because even a small amount of pain reduction means that you may be able to take fewer prescription pain relievers, thereby reducing your risk of side effects!

Here are a few specific product suggestions for you to consider:

Imbue pain patches are great for back pain, knee pain, and elbow pain. They can be cut and shaped depending on where the patch will be applied.

Developed in Australia, Elmore Oil is a complex blend of oils which contain natural anti-inflammatory medicines. This is a product that you’ll definitely want to apply 3-4 times a day for a few weeks before deciding whether or not it will work for you.

Lastly, we recommend natural anti-inflammatory products, such as Longvida RD and Wobenzym PS, to help you fight inflammation, which can be the source of pain in many different diseases.