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Nursing issues
Compounded creams no better than placebo creams for localised chronic pain
  1. Jiale Hu
  1. Department of Nurse Anesthesia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jiale Hu, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23284, USA; jhu4{at}

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Commentary on: Brutcher RE, Kurihara C, Bicket MC, et al. Compounded topical pain creams to treat localized chronic pain: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 170:309–18. doi: 10.7326/M18-2736.

Implications for practice and research

  • Considering the increased costs and minor benefit from compounded creams, clinicians need to caution against routine use of compounded creams for chronic pain.

  • Future studies are warranted to determine whether targeting specific types of chronic pain or adding other agents would lead to better results of compounded creams.


The use of compounded topical creams for localised chronic pain has increased dramatically. The participants in this study, military personnel, are one of the populations who might benefit from this treatment as opioid therapy may have a negative effect on their judgement and motor skills. In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spent >500 million dollars on compounded …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.