Glucosamine, Chonroitin = Placebo

Back from vacation.

Alternative medicine in most instances is an expensive placebo. There are benefits to alternative providers and the drug does provides something to do for patients who must do something–even if it’s no better than doing nothing.

The British Medical Journal this week published a meta-analysis of several trials of the use of glucosamine and chondroitin–alternative treatments for arthritis. Even my vet recommends these drugs.

Unfortunately these agents don’t work! The study concluded:

Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space. Health authorities and health insurers should not cover the costs of these preparations, and new prescriptions to patients who have not received treatment should be discouraged.

Medicynical Note: The broader issue “efficacy” should be considered in both the marketing of medications and payment by insurance. In this case the “drug” is inexpensive (though there are 2 billion dollars in sales annually around the world) and it’s not a huge issue except as a matter of honesty in marketing.

But there are a number of expensive drugs that offer results little or no better result than placebo but at prohibitive cost. Should insurers pay? Medicare has no authority to deny payment for drugs that are FDA approved even those with little benefit. It’s a reason why our system is bankrupting us.


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One response to “Glucosamine, Chonroitin = Placebo

  1. Glucosamine sure seems to work for me! Considering the relatively low cost–around ten dollars a month–I’m OK with continuing to take it.
    Keep up the great work challenging the medical establishment! I just think there are bigger battles to fight than this one- Pat

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