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GSK arthritis treatment Voltaren approved for over-the-counter sales

James Leggate

GlaxoSmithKline’s Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel, which was formerly a prescription drug, can now be purchased over-the-counter, the company announced Tuesday.

The treatment has been available as a doctor-prescribed treatment for more than 10 years. The FDA approved Voltaren for over-the-counter sale in February and it has just now hit stores as an OTC product. It’s the first OTC prescription-strength, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory topical gel for arthritis pain available in the U.S., according to GlaxoSmithKline.

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GlaxoSmithKline partnered with pop star Paula Abdul for an ad campaign announcing the treatment’s new over-the-counter status.

Abdul said in a statement that her doctor previously prescribed her Voltaren for her own arthritis.

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“I’ve put my joints through a lot over the years,” she said. “Dancing, jumping, flipping – it’s my heart and soul, but I’ve been pushing my joints to the limit for decades as a result.”

More than 32 million people in the U.S. suffer from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is caused by damage to joint cartilage between bones. It can leave people in aching pain and with stiffness, decreased flexibility and swelling.

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“The OTC availability of Voltaren Arthritis Pain helps to provide greater access to an effective topical treatment option for joint pain patients, so more people with osteoarthritis pain can find relief,” said Jissan Cherian, U.S. director of OTC marketing for GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer healthcare.

The arthritis drug market was worth nearly $25 billion as of 2018 and is forecast to reach more than 36 billion by 2027, according to market research firm Reports and Data.

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