Today s No News Item: Another supplement, glucosamine, bites the dust

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It should be no surprise to anyone who reads our Dispatch that we at ACSH are not fans of dietary supplements. Our Dr. Josh Bloom has written repeatedly about the farcical law that enabled makers of unapproved drugs (which is what supplements are) to bypass the rigorous safety and efficacy data that are required by the FDA for traditional prescription drugs.

This is a virtual guarantee that supplements will almost always be useless, harmful, or both. This time we got lucky the supplement in question is merely useless.

The supplement du jour is glucosamine.

A study conducted at the University of Arizona College of Medicine throws a good heaping of dirt on glucosamine one of the most popular supplements with annual sales of about $2 billion.

The study was published in the March 11th issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, and it is difficult to argue with the results. But it is easy to believe, says Dr. Bloom because when supplements are ultimately subjected to randomized, double-blinded clinical trials, they simply don t work something that makes the exclusion of the FDA in the process even more ludicrous.

The lead author, Dr. C. Kent Kwoh, professor of medicine and medical imaging at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, wrote Our study found no evidence that drinking glucosamine supplement reduced knee cartilage damage, relieved pain or improved function in individuals with chronic knee pain.

Tell us how he really feels.

Kwoh and colleagues studied 201 patients with multiple knee problems over a six month period. Half the group got lemonade, and the other half got lemonade containing 1,500 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride. At the end of the study, there was no difference in the two groups by any measure pain, joint degradation, cartilage growth or biochemical markers of inflammation.

Nancy E. Lane, MD, director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Health at the University of California commented, "It doesn't work ¦ Nobody wishes it worked more than me."

Which led Dr. Bloom to quip:When life gives you a lousy drug, make lemonade.

Which also begs the question:When will lemonade pills hit the market?