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Pennsaid Topical Solution - What You Need to Know

Pennsaid Topical Solution Is Treatment Option for Knee Osteoarthritis


Updated September 29, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

What Is Pennsaid?

Pennsaid is a topical NSAID solution that received FDA approval on November 4, 2009, to treat pain and symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis. Pennsaid, specifically, is a diclofenac sodium topical solution. Pennsaid was developed by Nuvo Research Inc. Another formulation, Pennsaid Plus Gel, is still under development.

How Does Pennsaid Work?

Pennsaid combines a transdermal carrier, containing DMSO, with diclofenac sodium in order to deliver the drug through the skin directly to where the pain is located. Study results have shown that Pennsaid works as well as the maximum daily dose of oral diclofenac.

Does Pennsaid Have Adverse Effects Similar to Oral NSAIDs?

The use of topical NSAIDs in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis offers potential significant gastrointestinal safety benefits for certain patients. Localized treatment may be safer and more tolerable compared to oral NSAIDs.

The potential for adverse events such as ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and cardiovascular risks still exist however.

The most common side effect associated with Pennsaid is mild dryness or irritation where it is applied.

Is Pennsaid the First Approved Topical NSAID in the United States?

No, Pennsaid is not the first. Voltaren Gel was the first prescription topical treatment for osteoarthritis approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Is Pennsaid Available Outside of the United States?

Yes, Pennsaid is available in Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and the Caribbean. It became available in the United States in April 2010.


FDA Approves Pennsaid. Drugs.com. Accessed 11/16/09.

Pennsaid. NUVO. Accessed 11/16/09.

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