Friday, 2 May 2014: South Africa’s osteoarthritis sufferers are desperate to ease their pain. So desperate in fact, that a medical breakthrough treatment, a gel, has sold out within three weeks of arriving in the country.
Ken Ralston, MD of SkyMed who has brought joint pain treatment Flexiseq into the country explains, “We calculated what stock we would need for three months and imported this. We have been astounded at the demand. We sold our last tube last week after three weeks of sales.”
Lawrence Gerber, Dis-Chem Fourways store manager comments, “Initially we asked for six units of Flexiseq. People started coming in asking for it as they had read about it in the paper. We then ordered 72 units and that also wasn’t enough. We have substantially increased our order. It was very extremely strong demand for a brand new product which wasn’t being advertised.”
Charmaine Pretorius is the manager of Dis-Chem Olympus in Pretoria East. She says, “We initially had six units in store, they sold out so fast I never even saw Flexiseq. We had a waiting list of 80 people that we had to call to collect when we received our next order. We see this occasionally with a new product where everyone seems to want it. There’s a strong need for pain relief from people suffering from osteoarthritis.”
Myron Friedland, the manager of Dis-Chem Sea Point, “I can’t recall a product that sold out even before it arrived in store. We sold out the same day it arrived. We ordered more stock and sold out again, and we have ordered even more now.”
Ismail Essop, 62, from Benoni read about Flexiseq last year and decided to import it as it was not yet available in South Africa.
“I was diagnosed about 8 years ago with osteoarthritis in both knees and told to have a knee replacement by an orthopaedic surgeon. My son who is a doctor told me not to rush surgery. I started taking tablets which did not help. Another doctor suggested cortisone shots in the knees. Initially I had them every six months but then I needed them every three months and it was a very painful injection into the knee.
I ordered ten tubes from Germany as it was more cost effective to buy in bulk. After using six tubes as instructed, it really relieved my osteoarthritis symptoms and don’t need to have knee injections or knee replacements!”
Ralston comments, if Flexiseq can help to reduce the number of hip and knee replacements in South Africa, this could have positive implications for medical aids as well as government hospitals.
The gel relieves the symptoms of osteoarthritis allowing damaged joints to be adequately lubricated giving pain relief and restoring joint mobility. Improvements are experienced within a few days.
Because it is drug-free, it has no systemic side-effects such as heart problems or stomach complaints that the leading tablet treatments for osteoarthritis can cause.
Dr Cathy Spargo, a rheumatologist and chairperson of the South African Rheumatism Arthritis Association explains: “Most people with osteoarthritis live with chronic pain that interferes with their daily lives. Many can’t take or can’t tolerate current oral analgesics because of side effects. There is therefore a huge, unsatisfied need for effective and safe analgesics for osteoarthritis.”
The South African experience mirrors what happened when the product launched in Ireland and became the fastest growing over-the-counter product that pharmacies there had seen in recent times.
The effects of this scientific breakthrough were measured in six clinical trials involving over 4,000 patients published in international peer review journals. In all trials, patients experienced reduced pain and improved joint mobility. In one large trial, Flexiseq was shown to be as effective as celecoxib, a billion dollar best-selling osteoarthritis drug.
In South Africa, Flexiseq is available without prescription from Dis-Chem, independent pharmacies as well as via the Arthritis Foundation’s website. Pharmacies which have run out should be restocked during the coming week.