Painkillers can do 'more harm than good'

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen should not be prescribed for chronic pain because they may do 'more harm than good', health officials say

  • There is 'little or no evidence' the commonly used drugs work, Nice says 
  • It advised exercise classes, therapy, acupuncture or antidepressants instead 
  • Chronic pain is difficult to treat and affects up to a third of Britons

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can do 'more harm than good' and should not be prescribed to treat chronic pain, health officials have said.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence claims that there is 'little or no evidence' the drugs, as well as aspirin and opioids, work.  

But in draft guidance, published on Monday, Nice said there was evidence painkillers can cause harm, including addiction.

It says it would be 'inappropriate' for them to offered to patients anymore, despite the NHS saying paracetamol is safe when taken over many years.

Nice suggests people with chronic pain are instead offered exercise classes, therapy, acupuncture or even antidepressants.

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By Vanessa Chalmers
(Source:; August 4, 2020;
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