While compounded topical pain creams have become an increasingly popular alternative to oral pain medications and opioids, a new report from the National Academies of Sciences says there is a lack of scientific evidence to support their safety or effectiveness.

The report “Compounded Topical Pain Creams: Review of Select Ingredients for Safety, Effectiveness, and Use” includes recommendations to improve federal and state oversight of safety measures; data collection and surveillance; and training and education for pharmacists and clinicians who compound, which is the practice of combining, mixing, or adjusting ingredients to create a tailored medication for a patient.

The committee that wrote the report reviewed 20 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) included in compounded topical pain creams meant for application to healthy, intact skin. Of the 20 APIs reviewed, only three individual ingredients – doxepin, lidocaine, and naproxen – show potential evidence of effectiveness, it concluded.

“Nearly 50 million U.S. adults...

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