Safety of OTC Pain Meds

NSAIDS reviewed by European Medicines Agency

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Drug regulators in Europe have decided to conduct another review of the cardiovascular safety of common over-the-counter pain medications called non-selective NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

NSAIDS, including aspirin and Bayer's Aleve, are widely taken for inflammation or pain, or for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or migraine headaches . Though concerns have previously been expressed about effects on the heart, previous research has been inconclusive.

"Ask your pharmacist if NSAIDS are right for you."

The European Medicines Agency most recently reviewed the cardiovascular safety of NSAIDS in 2006, finding that the overall benefit remained positive, though the review noted a small increased risk of heart attacks or strokes as a result of the medications could not be excluded.

However, that small increase was mostly seen when NSAIDS were used at high doses or for long term treatment. The review five years ago recommended that the European Commission fund an independent study to examine the risk of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular toxicity of these medicines.

Since the European Medicines Agency's last review, numerous additional studies pertaining to the safety of NSAIDS have been published, which the organization plans to review.

The agency also will review other available clinical data and post-marketing safety reports targeting NSAIDS to determine whether an update to the 2006 opinion is warranted.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 23, 2011
Last Updated:
October 25, 2011