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Reginster and colleagues have reported on the results of the CONCEPT trial showing that osteoarthritis (OA) patients treated 800 mg/day of pharmaceutical-grade chondroitin sulfate (CS) have less VAS pain scores and improved function over 6 months therapy. These results were superior to placebo and equivalent to celecoxib in reducing in symptomatic OA knee pain.
They enrolled 603 OA knee patients a 6-month, 3-arm, double-blind, double-dummy trial were patients were randomized to either placebo, CS and celecoxib (200 mg/day). After 6 mos, greater improvement in Pain VAS scores were seen with CS (-42.6 mm) and celecoxib (−39.5 mm) versus those treated with placebo (−33.3 mm) (p=0.001 for CS and p=0.009 for celecoxib vs PBO).
So is chondroitin as effective as NSAID therapy? The problem is that many prior studies of CS use in knee OA have yielded mixed results. ( Citation source: http://buff.ly/2rqc0hE)
These data are limited by fair low effect size, the trial being sponsored by the CS manufacturer and prior claims showing selective benefit of a specific manufacturer compared to other manufacturers.
While the results are encouraging, further study by other parties is advisable.