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Volunteers sought for pain relief tests

A major research project into the safety of long term pain relief for sufferers of arthritis has taken a significant step forward this week with the recruitment of its 4000th patient volunteer.
The SCOT study is designed to examine the effectiveness and safety of drugs commonly used to treat the pain of arthritis.
Patients in Highland are being invited to join the study, which could benefit millions of arthritis sufferers around the world.
Dr John Harvie, Consultant Rheumatologist at NHS Highland, is running the SCOT study (sponsored by the University of Dundee) locally, and has successfully recruited eight patients and six GP practices around the Highland area. He hopes to recruit over 100 patients over the next year.
Dr Harvie said: “We are looking to get as many patients and GPs involved in this study as the results will help GPs make decisions about which drugs to prescribe for patients. It's about allowing doctors and those with arthritis to make the best choice for them. The results of this study will allow a greater understanding and enable those involved to make an informed choice.”
The group of drugs most commonly prescribed to treat the pain of arthritis, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS) includes familiar names such as ibuprofen (BrufenŽ) and diclofenac (VoltarolŽ) which are commonly used to relieve joint pains. Often they do that job well, which is why they are so popular.
Millions of prescriptions are written in Scotland every year for NSAIDs, not counting all the ibuprofen sold 'over-the-counter' in pharmacies and shops. Despite this, like all drugs, NSAIDS can have side effects. These include irritation of the digestive system and effects on blood pressure and the heart.
In recent years a new group of NSAIDs has been developed called `Cox-2 inhibitors’. These Cox 2 inhibitors have been shown to be less harsh on the digestive system than the most popular existing NSAIDs, leading to fewer stomach ulcers and bleeding. However, early studies on one of these new drugs suggested an increase in the risk of raised blood pressure and heart problems, but the balance between benefits and possible risks is not known.
The aim of the SCOT study is to find out if celecoxib - the most widely prescribed of the Cox-2 inhibitors - is better, worse or just the same as the other available NSAIDs in terms of cardiovascular and digestive system safety.
The SCOT study, led by Professor Tom MacDonald, of the Medicines Monitoring Unit at The University of Dundee, is supported by six other Universities across Scotland, England, Denmark and Holland, making it one of the biggest ever studies run by a Scottish university.
This information will be of great value to everyone who needs to take these drugs on a regular basis, which is millions of people around the world. The findings will allow doctors and people with arthritis to make the best choice, not just for their joint pains but also for their general health,” said Professor Tom MacDonald, lead researcher on the SCOT Trial, based at the University of Dundee.