Ronald Tallarida, Ph.D., and Alan Cowan, Ph.D., of Temple's School of Medicine, and Robert Raffa, Ph.D., of Temple's School of Pharmacy, conducted the study "Antinociceptive Synergy, Additivity, and Subadditivity with Combinations of Oral Glucosamine Plus Nonopioid Analgesics in Mice," which was published in the November 2003 issue of JPET.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID. NSAIDs, which also include aspirin, are quite effective in relieving pain. They are so effective, in fact, that pain sufferers sometimes take higher and higher doses in hope of more pain relief. High doses of NSAIDs, especially when taken over long periods of time, can cause gastrointestinal upset, such as heartburn, or even bleeding.
"Combining pain relievers into one pill can increase patient compliance, simplify prescribing, and improve efficacy without increasing side effects, or conversely, decrease side effects without losing efficacy," said Raffa.
In addition to these benefits, drug combinations can also sometimes yield a totally unexpected effect, such as the magnification of a drug's powers. "When this happens, a phenomenon known as drug synergism, it's like finding buried treasure," added Tallarida.
Glucosamine, a naturally occurring substance in the body, which is also available in synthetic form over the counter, is used to treat osteoarthritis, a painful, degenerative joint disorder. While it has been shown to prevent and repair bone and cartilage damage, researchers have yet to demonstrate that glucosamine actually blocks pain.