Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: Patients with OA use different drugs in their search for relief. We aimed to study the prevalence of use and combinations of different medications for OA in a population-based cohort of OA patients in Catalonia, Spain, while characterizing users of each of the drugs available, with a particular focus on cardiovascular risk factors. METHODS: Data were obtained from the Sistema d'Informació per al Desenvolupament de l'Investigació en Atenció Primària (SIDIAP) database, which includes electronic medical records and pharmacy invoice data for >5 million people from Catalonia. Study participants were those with a clinical diagnosis of OA in 2006-10. Drugs studied included oral and topical NSAIDs, analgesics (paracetamol, metamizole), opioids (tramadol, fentanyl), cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitors and symptomatic slow-acting drugs in OA. Drug utilization was described using medication possession ratios (MPRs), equivalent to the proportion of days covered with the drug of interest. The annual incidence of new users in the first year after OA diagnosis from 2006 to 2010 was estimated for all studied drugs among newly diagnosed OA patients using Poisson regression. RESULTS: We identified 238 536 study participants. The most common regimen of treatment consisted of at least three drugs (53.9% of patients). The drugs most frequently used regularly (MPR ≥50%) were chondroitin (21.2%), glucosamine (15.8%) and oral NSAIDs (14.4%). The incidence of the use of opioids, COX-2 inhibitors and chondroitin increased over the 5 year period, whereas all others decreased. CONCLUSION: Drug combinations are common in the treatment of OA patients, who are thus exposed to potential drug interactions, with unknown impacts on their health. The increasing use of opioids and COX-2 inhibitors is noteworthy because of the potential impact on safety and costs.

Original publication




Journal article


Rheumatology (oxford)

Publication Date





860 - 867


Catalonia, drug utilization, electronic health records, osteoarthritis, pharmaceutical therapy, pharmacoepidemiology, population-based cohort, Aged, Analgesics, Analgesics, Opioid, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal, Antirheumatic Agents, Chondroitin, Cohort Studies, Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors, Databases, Factual, Drug Therapy, Combination, Female, Humans, Male, Medical Records, Middle Aged, Osteoarthritis, Pharmacy, Retrospective Studies, Spain