Rows of orange prescription pill bottles with white pills in them.
Some of the newer osteoarthritis medications include Zilretta and Vivlodex, though more medicine is being tested and developed.

New Osteoarthritis Medications

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 500 million people around the world and causes significant health, social and economic issues. Osteoarthritis can affect any joints in the body, but most commonly affects the hands, spine, knees, hips and feet. While aging, overuse of joints, genetic disorders and metabolic syndromes, including obesity and diabetes, have been identified as important factors for the onset and progression of osteoarthritis, the exact cause of this degenerative disorder has not been determined. While this condition comes with unpleasant symptoms, there are treatment options. In this article, we will take a look at new osteoarthritis medications.

Treatment of osteoarthritis has focused primarily on improving symptoms and attempting to modify or improve structural features of the affected joints. However, no treatment has been able to stop or delay the progression of osteoarthritis, or provide effective and long-lasting symptom relief. While joint replacement is currently the most effective treatment option for patients with osteoarthritis, there are various medications that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) to control symptoms, and numerous medications are currently under investigation for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

8 FDA-Approved Medications for the Treatment of Osteoarthritis

Below is a list of the medications that have received FDA approval for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

1. Vivlodex (Meloxicam)

This medication was approved in 2015 and is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties. It works by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2). Vivlodex is taken orally with a starting dose of 5 milligrams per day. The dosage can be increased to 10 milligrams per day if necessary, but it is important to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time needed.

2. Mobic (Meloxicam)

Approved in 2000, this is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic properties. Similar to other NSAIDS, it works by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX). The recommended dose for osteoarthritis is 7.5 milligrams taken orally once per day, with some patients needing an increased dose of 15 milligrams per day.

3. Duexis

This medication was approved in 2011 and combines ibuprofen with an H2 receptor antagonist, famotidine. It helps to control pain while reducing stomach acidity during the time when the risk for ulceration peaks, which decreases the risk of developing ulcers in the upper gastrointestinal tract. Duexis is taken orally as a whole tablet, three times per day, with a recommended dose of 800 milligrams of ibuprofen/26.6 milligrams of famotidine

4. Naprelan (Naproxen Sodium)

Approved in 1996, it is classified as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), helping to reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. Naprelan works similar to other NSAIDs by inhibiting cyclooxygenase (COX1 and COX2). Additionally, naproxen sodium inhibits prostaglandin synthesis, which are mediators of inflammation so it may exert its therapeutic benefit by decreasing prostaglandins in joint tissue. It’s important to weigh the benefits versus risks of this medication and use the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time. The recommended initial dose is two 375-milligram tablets daily, one 750-milligram tablet daily, or two 500-milligram tablets daily. Dosing may be adjusted lower or higher depending on the patient’s response to their initial dose.

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5. Pennsaid

This medication was approved in 2009 and is a topical formula of diclofenac sodium in a patented carrier solution that delivers the active medication through the skin, directly to the area of pain. Pennsaid is specifically indicated to treat knee osteoarthritis. The way in which Pennsaid works is similar to other NSAIDS in that it inhibits cyclooxygenase (COX), which results in reduced formation of prostaglandins thromboxanes and prostacyclin, which helps to provide therapeutic benefit.

6. Supartz

This medication was approved in 2001 and is a joint fluid therapy that can be given to patients who have failed to respond to other medications. This medication is a viscous, clear liquid that is injected into the knee joint once a week, lasting for five injections. It helps to provide long-term pain relief by adding to the natural synovial fluid in the body, which is degraded because of osteoarthritis. This helps to lubricate the joint and provide shock absorption.

7. Synvisc

This medication was approved in 1997 and is a mixture of hylan A fluid, hylan B gel and salt water and is designed specifically to treat knee osteoarthritis in patients who have not responded to conservative treatment options and simple pain medications. It is an intra-articular injection that is given once a week for a total of three injections. Hylan A and hylan B are made from hyaluronan (sodium hyaluronate), which is a natural substance found in the body and in very high amounts in the joints of the body. Hyaluronan acts as a lubricant and shock absorber in the joints and is required for the joints to work properly. In individuals with osteoarthritis, there may be a deficiency of hyaluronan, or the quality of the hyaluronan in the joint may not be optimal.

8. Zilretta

This medication was approved in 2017 and is an extended-release injection solution of triamcinolone acetonide, which is a short-acting corticosteroid that has been specifically designed to treat knee osteoarthritis due to its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating properties. Zilretta should be delivered to the patient via an intra-articular injection of 32 milligrams.

In Conclusion

Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative disease that can be debilitating for some individuals. While there is currently no cure available, there are various new osteoarthritis medications available that have received FDA approval for the treatment of osteoarthritis, and numerous others are currently being investigated that may help to control your osteoarthritis symptoms and improve your quality of life.