Glucosamine is widely available over the counter in health stores and pharmacies around the world as well as via prescription in some countries. The Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI) recommends glucosamine as one of the most effective treatments for moderate cases of osteoarthritis.
Europe and the UK
“In most of Europe, glucosamine is approved as a medical drug,” says Mr Balint. “In the UK, it is sold as a food supplement and can be obtained from high street stores and on the internet. The use of glucosamine has increased in the UK since the decision to allow prescribing on NHS FP10 prescription in November 2002,” he adds.
In 2008, a Cochrane review on glucosamine compared the results of 25 randomised, placebo-controlled trials which looked at how effective glucosamine was in treating the symptoms of OA. The review determined glucosamine may reduce pain, improve joint function and have minimal side effects.
An article in a 2010 issue of the BC Medical Journal states: “glucosamine is one of the most commonly used complementary or alternative medicine products in North America.”* Despite this, glucosamine is not approved as a medical drug in the USA, although it is widely available as a dietary supplement.
*BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 8, October 2010, page(s) 404-409 Articles
Stephen Kennedy, MD, Michael Moran, MBBS, FRCSC
In 2006, a decision in Australia also saw glucosamine sulphate supplements containing potassium chloride continue to be available over the counter, rather than prescription-only, while in New Zealand, glucosamine supplements can be purchased in health stores.