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Osteoarthritis sufferers get new drug hope – Mirror Online.

It may change lives and is cost effective too.

 Eight million people in the UK have osteoarthritis, the painful joint condition that develops over time due to wear and tear.

It is commonly thought to be down to normal ageing, but it can single out people who have suffered a sports injury involving a knee or a shoulder as well as those who are overweight.

Your weight goes straight down to be borne by your hips, knees, ankles and feet. So the heavier you are, the earlier you are likely to get OA of the hip or knee.

OA of either joint is painful and limiting. An affected joint doesn’t have a full range of movement and eventually it will creak and grind.

OA is expensive for the NHS, too. Every year the NHS stands the cost of 140,000 hip and knee replacements in England and Wales for a whopping £1billion.

I once made a TV programme about treatment costs versus improvement in the quality of life after said treatment. Competing for funds were two patients.

One was a 68-year-old with OA wanting a hip replacement with an annual cost then of £2,500. The other was a young single mother with two small children in renal failure needing dialysis until a donor kidney came along. It cost £100,000 a year.

I thought it was an open and shut case. The single mother should get it.

But when the audience came to vote they gave the money to the OA patient. When I asked why, the answer was because the audience couldn’t condemn someone to years of pain.

However, with the advent of a new treatment, fewer joint replacements may be needed. Researchers have discovered that an old drug used in a new way could lessen the need for new joints.

Strontium ranelate has been used for some time to treat the bone thinning condition osteoporosis and it has been recently found to alter the course of OA.

Strontium ranelate can halt the downward spiral of worsening symptoms from this degenerative joint condition where cartilage lining the joint gradually wears away until the two ends of the bone are grating on one another. Very painful indeed.

This drug could change people’s lives. For the NHS it’s even better because it costs only £1 a day, so it’s highly cost effective.