PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC. It is estimated that 5-15% of people in the Western world between the ages of 35 and 74 years suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee. The disease can be quite disabling and there are no conventional pharmaceutical drugs that prevent its progression. As a matter of fact, there is growing evidence that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cox-2 inhibitors commonly used to dull the pain accompanying the disorder actually accelerate its progression.
Researchers at Charles University in Prague now report that glucosamine sulfate is highly effective in halting the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee. The clinical trial involved 202 patients between the ages of 45 and 70 years who were randomized to receive a placebo or 1500 mg/day of glucosamine sulfate powder for the 3-year trial period. All participants underwent thorough medical examinations at the beginning of the study and then once a year. The average joint space in the narrowest medial compartment of the tibiofemoral joint was found to be slightly less than 4 mm at the start of the trial. After 3 years no change was observed in the glucosamine group, but the average joint space width had decreased by 0.19 mm in the placebo group. There was little improvement in symptoms such as knee pain and maximum walking distance in the placebo group, but members of the glucosamine group experienced symptom score improvements of 20-25% compared with baseline.
The researchers conclude that treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee with glucosamine sulfate (1500
mg/day) is safe and effectively delays the natural progression of the disease. NOTE: The study was funded
by the Rottapharm Group (Monza, Italy) a manufacturer of glucosamine sulfate.