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Drug Slows Knee Osteoarthritis Progression

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Strontium in Perspective continued...

But finding a drug that can actually delay the progression of knee osteoarthritis is difficult, he says. Several large trials of drugs that looked promising in early research failed to pan out.

"That makes this study potentially very exciting," he says.

But until the research has been reviewed by other doctors and published in a medical journal, it is too soon to draw firm conclusions, Cohen says.

With no approved treatment to delay the progression of the disease, current osteoarthritis treatments focus on improving disease symptoms through a combination of medication, physical therapy, and other non-pharmaceutical therapy.

Strontium vs. Placebo

The study involved 1,371 people with knee osteoarthritis whose average age was 63. They were given a 1- or 2-gram dose of strontium or placebo daily.

The people who took either dose of strontium had less cartilage loss compared to the placebo group.

Both doses worked at a level that could significantly lower their risk of surgery within five years, Reginster says.

"What we saw in this study is that 30% to 40% fewer patients taking strontium reached this [surgery] threshold compared with placebo," he says.

As for symptoms, people taking the 2-gram dose scored substantially higher than either of the other groups on pain related to everyday activities.

Because the drug can raise the risk for deep vein thrombosis when given in osteoporosis, patients with a history of DVT were excluded from the study.

As always, people should talk to their doctors before taking a supplement to prevent or treat any disorder, Cohen stresses.

Several researchers reported financial ties to drug companies, including Servier Laboratories, a manufacturer of strontium ranelate. 

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary, as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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