March 8, 2019 – Expensive and Ineffective


Anchor lead: Compounded pain creams are no better than those available over the counter, Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you have pain due to arthritis or injury, pain creams that you apply to the skin may be one option. But don’t obtain a personalized, compounded pain cream. That’s according to Steven Cohen, a pain expert at Johns Hopkins, based on his recent study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Cohen: The take home is that compounded pain creams don’t work better than topical creams that you can get over the counter. They seem to be less effective and that’s because the active substances are diluted. And they shouldn’t be routinely used.  :13

In fact, the military has been bilked out of millions of dollars for the creams by a couple of doctors.

Cohen: They’re incredibly expensive. I think that they targeted government organizations and that’s because of the conceptual appeal. So service members, you don’t want to give them drugs that could affect judgment. In the VA population it’s very similar. They’re also at high risk to be put on opioids and drugs that have cognitive effects. :18

Cohen advises using over the counter topical pain creams if you find them effective. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.