Pain Relief Through Your Skin… Is it Really What it Cracks Up to Be?


Imagine that you’ve got a plaster on your arm…

…and it gives you constant pain relief through your skin. A soothing drip-feed of drugs over the course of 12 hours.

Sound good?

This is what scientists are almost perfecting in the University of Warwick: the world’s first ever ibuprofen patch.

Now I know for a fact there are already patches out in the market, so why is this going to be better?

Well apparently, the scientists say it’s different because it’s the first one to deliver a controlled dose throughout the day.

University of Warwick research chemist Professor David Haddleton said this would deliver “effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist. Also, we can improve the drug loading and stickiness of patches containing other active ingredients”.

Now I have seen quite a few articles about this in the press. And they all have one thing in common.

They all pretty much repeat what the PRESS RELEASE says. You can take a look at the original here.

The thing to bear in mind is that a press release is, effectively, marketing. It’s a rosy view of the project designed to whip up interest for sales or funding in the run-up to launch.

However, many lazy journalists take these press releases almost wholesale, reword them a bit, then print it as if it’s a report, without challenging it or asking questions.

If you read the press release in detail, you’ll notice, the scientists aren’t doing this out pure academic desire, or a sense of social need. The press release says they’re “in partnership” with a company called Medherant who were set up by….

…the very same scientists who are doing the research.

In other words, this is a scientist doing work on pain relief patches for the pain relief patch company he founded.

Nothing wrong there, it’s just worth bearing this in mind.

Also I do have a bit of a problem with the media simply churning this out as if it’s necessarily make people healthier.

Really, this is less about breakthroughs in health care and more about finding new ways to make money from Britain’s increasing addiction to over-the-counter pain killers. It’s a snazzy new format for consumers to get excited about, making it easier to take pain killing drugs.

As the press release says (my emphasis in bold):

“The discovery opens up opportunity for the development of long-acting and easily accessible, over the counter pain relief products that can address concerns such as chronic back pain, arthritis, neuralgia; while avoiding having to take potentially harmful doses orally.”

Yes, patches can reduce the risks of oral drugs, but really is this the most important thing we should be doing? Do we really need more ways to take more drugs?

Surely the key is to tackle the causes of pain…

Poor posture, bad diet, stress, lack of nutrients, lifestyle, lack of exercise, underlying medical issues, side-effects of medical treatments, undiagnosed illnesses, digestive problems, food intolerances…

And where we do find that there’s chronic pain that needs to be eased, we should surely be finding more natural ways to do it – better diet, herbal remedies, specific painkilling foods, Pilates, yoga, TENS machines.

I mean, if patches are so great, then why did this man end up in The Daily Mail, claiming he had become “addicted to the patches prescribed by his doctor to alleviate his back pain”?

The drug problem that won’t go away

It doesn’t matter what kind of drug it is, when you get used to it, your body grows more tolerant of it – so you need more.

As Keith Humphries, cabinet member for public health and protection, said in 2014:

“The problem of addiction to over-the-counter or prescribed medicine is not generally understood by people as well as other common addictions. It is important that people realise how addictive over-the-counter and prescribed drugs can be.”

My concern about this drive to create more brilliant, convenient, ‘safe’ painkillers is that scientists are doing this sort of research for money, when the real breakthroughs come from understanding the causes of pain.

The trouble is, there’s less commercial value in doing that, so the research money doesn’t go there.

I don’t blame scientists. They have to eat and live like anyone else. They need funding and jobs. This is why many of them work hard researching the ideas that pay – but that are not always what’s best for society.

If this is something that angers you, then I wrote something else about this subject that might interest you.

If you go to The People’s Doctor website now you can see my piece Why You’re Being Duped by the Pharmaceutical Industry. It reveals a commonly prescribed drug that where people who took take it for even a few weeks are 51% more likely to get Alzheimer’s!

In fact, there’s a whole load of articles now up on the site related to this subject which you might have missed. Just click on the titles that interest you:

The big statin cover-up! And why the alternative for good heart health looks like this…
Cough? Sore throat? Read this before you try a medicine from the supermarket shelf
Is your gut to blame for joint pain?

And finally, do remember to check out our range of recommended natural healthy alternative to prescription drugs, plus more besides on The People’s Doctor shop.

Until next time


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