A new research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, proved that the hydroxychloroquine off-label alternatives for hand osteoarthritis are ineffective and can even create adverse reactions to some patients.
Lead researcher Dr Sarah Kingsbury, from the University of Leeds and NIHR Leeds Biomedical Research Centre at Chapel Allerton Hospital, said that even though there is some scientific basis that explains why hydroxychloroquine could be an effective drug, their evidence shows that for most patients it is not an effective treatment.
The research, funded by Arthritis Research UK, estimated that up to 30% of people aged over 70 suffer from osteoarthritis of the hand, which is a painful and disabling condition that can stop people from carrying out everyday activities. Their study was conducted on two groups of people, one of them receiving hydroxychloroquine off-label and one of them receiving a placebo. In total, there were 248 patients at 13 NHS hospitals in England involved, all suffering from this condition for at least 5 years.
Both groups reported an initial small reduction in the severity of pain. While this drug is known to be effective for some forms of inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, this study does not back up its use for hand osteoarthritis, said Dr Natalie Carter, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK.
She concluded by saying that it is vital that we invest in research to improve the treatment options available to people with this condition. Anyone concerned about the effectiveness of their treatment should seek advice from their doctor.
Figures from Arthritis Research UK show that 8.75 million people over the age of 45 have sought treatment for all types of osteoarthritis. From those people, one third has to stop working or reduce their working hours because of the pain of the condition. Hand osteoarthritis is more commonly seen in people whose occupations required increased manual dexterity.