Reports From National Arthritis Meeting

Dr. Shiel Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Osteoarthritis From
2001 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Introduction

Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by breakdown of cartilage, with the eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a "cushion" between the bones of the joints. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis. Among the over 100 different types of arthritis conditions, osteoarthritis is the most common and affects over 15 million people in the United States. Before age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more frequently in males. After age 55, it occurs more frequently in females. In the United States, all races appear to be equally affected. A higher incidence of osteoarthritis exists in the Japanese population, while South African blacks, East Indians, and southern Chinese have lower rates. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, feet, spine, and the large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees.

Medications

VALDECOXIB

Valdecoxib is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is being studied for use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is not yet commercially available. Prostaglandins are chemicals that are important contributors to the inflammation of arthritis, which causes pain, fever, swelling, and tenderness. Valdecoxib blocks the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (specifically, cyclooxygenase 2 or Cox-2), thereby resulting in lower concentrations of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation and its accompanying pain, fever, swelling, and tenderness are reduced. Cox-2 Inhibitors differ from traditional NSAIDs in that they cause less inflammation and ulceration of the stomach and intestine and do not interfere with the clotting of blood.