Patients in the UK taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory could benefit significantly from a new drug that offers powerful pain relief as well as protection against stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Meda Pharmaceuticals’ Axorid is the first medicine to combine a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment (NSAID), ketoprofen, with a proton pump inhibitor, omeprazole, to prevent the development of stomach ulcers and internal bleeding in a single pill.

Each year around 4,000 people are diagnosed with a gastrointestinal bleed as a direct result of taking a NSAID, and of these 700 will lose their lives, highlighting that, despite the availability of separate PPIs, many patients remain unprotected.

As Professor Peter Hayes, Professor of Hepatology and Honorary Consultant Physician at Edinburgh University and the Royal Infirmary, explained, a combination of an NSAID and a PPI is a common approach to reducing side effects and protecting the stomach.

“But as patients often forget to take them both, or are unhappy about taking two drugs, a combination of a PPI with an NSAID would seem to be a very practical and sensible approach to improved compliance,” he said, and noted that it is “far better for the patient to have the right treatment from the start rather than wait for complications to develop”.

Axorid was licensed in the UK earlier this year for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis and has been approved for use by the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

Compared to the ingredients separately, at £13.80 for a 30 days’ supply Axorid is marginally more expensive than a comparable combination of sustained release Diclofenac (£8.27) or Naproxen (£8.56), plus omeprazole (£2.13; all 28 day supply), for example, but “this must be tempered against the added convenience for the patient and the reassurance for the doctor that the patient is guaranteed to be getting the gastro-protection they need, minimising the risk of a gastric bleed,” a company spokeswoman told PharmaTimes UK News.