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J Pain Res. 2016 Nov 4;9:941-961. eCollection 2016.

Efficacy, tolerability, and safety of an oral enzyme combination vs diclofenac in osteoarthritis of the knee: results of an individual patient-level pooled reanalysis of data from six randomized controlled trials.

Author information

Institute of Neurological Sciences, Nuremberg.
Interdisciplinary Center for Pain and Palliative Care Medicine, Göppingen.
Interdisciplinary Center for Rheumatology and Immunology, Frankfurt.
O.Meany Consultancy, Hamburg, Germany.



To compare efficacy, safety, and tolerability of an oral enzyme combination (OEC) containing proteolytic enzymes and bioflavonoid vs diclofenac (DIC), a nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.


This was an individual patient-level pooled reanalysis of patient-reported data from prospective, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group studies in adult patients with moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis of the knee treated for at least 3 weeks with OEC or DIC. Appropriate trials were identified with a systemic literature and database search. Data were extracted from the original case-report forms and reanalyzed by a blinded evaluation committee. The primary end point was the improvement of the Lequesne algofunctional index (LAFI) score at study end vs baseline. Secondary end points addressed LAFI response rates, treatment-related pain-intensity changes, adverse events, and laboratory parameters.


Six trials were identified that enrolled in total 774 patients, of whom 759 had post-baseline data for safety analysis, 697 (n=348/349 with OEC/DIC) for intent to treat, 524 for per protocol efficacy analysis, and 500 for laboratory evaluation. LAFI scores - the primary efficacy end point - decreased comparably with both treatments and improved with both treatments significantly vs baseline (OEC 12.6±2.4 to 9.1±3.9, DIC 12.7±2.4 to 9.1±4.2, effect size 0.9/0.88; P<0.001 for each). In parallel, movement-related 11-point numeric rating-scale pain intensity improved significantly (P<0.001) and comparably with both treatments from baseline (6.4±1.9/6.6±1.8) to study end (3.8±2.7/3.9±2.5). Overall, 55/81 OEC/DIC patients of the safety-analysis population (14.7%/21.1%, P=0.022) reported 90/133 treatment-emergent adverse events, followed by premature treatment discontinuations in 22/39 patients (5.9%/10.2%, P=0.030). Changes in laboratory parameters were significantly less with OEC vs DIC: on average 18.8% vs 86.3% of patients presented a decrease with respect to hemoglobin, hematocrit, or erythrocyte count (P<0.001), and 28.2% vs 72.6% showed an increase in AST, ALT, or GGT (P<0.001).


When compared with DIC, OEC showed comparable efficacy and a superior tolerability/safety profile associated with a significantly lower risk of treatment-emergent adverse events, related study discontinuations, and changes in laboratory parameters.


diclofenac; meta-analysis; oral enzyme combination; osteoarthritis; randomized controlled trial

Conflict of interest statement

MAU, GHHMS, and RW are physicians and independent of any significant/relevant financial or other relationship to the sponsor, except for minor reimbursements for occasional lecture or consulting fees. UE is CEO of an independent consultancy agency. The authors report no other conflicts of interest.

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