Capsaicin cream - why can't we buy it without a prescription

MaureenB Member Posts: 29
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:08 in Living with arthritis

Hi I'm new to the forum but have had osteo arthritis in both hips for over 7 years. One hip has been replaced and now the other one is acting up. I know how to manage my condition but don't like taking pain killers. In Greece a friend who is waiting for a knee replacement told me about capsaicin cream which you can buy there without a prescription. This treatment is in the UK NICE guidelines and I read up about it ; there is also information on this site. Once I used it, the pain relief was instant. I gave some to a friend here who has had both hips replaced but who is in severe pain with arthritis in her neck. Again she is now pain free. The cost is a lot on prescription compared with over the counter pain killers, so it would affect NHS budgets. But lots of people buy creams purporting to deal with arthritic pain but which don't work. I am puzzled why this cream is not available over the counter, like so many treatments are now which previously were on prescription. Unlike painkillers with codeine, its not addictive and does not have major side effectes.


  • anneb82
    anneb82 Member Posts: 317

    Hello @MaureenB

    Welcome to the online community and thank you for joining us.

    So you have osteoarthritis in both hips for over 7 years. You have had one hip replaced and now the other hip is very painful. You know how to manage your condition but don't like to take painkillers. You have a friend in Greece waiting for a hip replacement told you about Capsaicin cream that you can buy there without a prescription. You have tried it and found that the pain relief was instant. Unfortunately, from what you have read on Versus Arthritis and the UK NICE guidelines, the cream is only available on prescription here and you were wondering why this was the case.

    I have to be honest with you, and say I really do not why this is the case. I can only assume that there must be something in the cream which means that the usage needs to be monitored in this country but that is only a guess. Its probably something that you would need to discuss with your GP and then maybe they would be able to explain why that is the case with this cream.

    I've included our helpline details for you above in case you ever need them.

    Please do continue to get involved in the community as we are always looking to make new friends.

    Take care

    Anne (Moderator)

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,730

    I suspect it just has to be used with care. This is the impression given by NICE.

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  • jamieA
    jamieA Member Posts: 762
    edited 16. Apr 2022, 17:47

    Hi @MaureenB

    I think the NHS only buys capsaicin cream from a company called Cephalon and the box it comes in has a label POM on it - Prescription Only Medication. There are two types Zacin is 0.025% and Axsain 0.075% strength. I've a couple of prescriptions outstanding for months now.

    There are sellers on eBay selling capsaicin cream but from other manufacturers. I don't know if I'd trust them though.

    My GP has prescribed me Ralvo patches in the interim but I use these sparingly as you can only have one patch on for 12 hours in any 24 hours and they are very expensive. They contain 5% lidocaine.

  • MaureenB
    MaureenB Member Posts: 29

    Hi I agree all drugs must be used with care. I found it interesting that the national guidance for the cream says that blood pressure should be monitored, give that recent research found that paracetamol can lead to higher blood pressure. In Greece you can buy the cream in pharmacies and it is made in Greece. I am more confident in the quality assurance of the Greek cream - which must meet EU safety standards - than what is sold on eBay.

  • Jojo1
    Jojo1 Member Posts: 4

    All this is very interesting as I have just been prescribed this cream for my knee.