OTC Transdermal Analgesic Patches in Pain Management

Donna M. Lisi, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP, BCGP, BCACP


US Pharmacist. 2019;44(3):15-21. 

In This Article


Despite their widespread use, studies involving OTC analgesic patches are both lacking and are of poor quality. These trials, when available, vary in design and typically include small numbers of patients. For rubefacients, such as MS, there is a paucity of information supporting their use in either acute or chronic pain. There is conflicting evidence for the benefit of low-dose capsaicin in treating chronic neuropathic pain, but it may be useful for low back pain and osteoarthritis of the knees and hands. Pharmacists need to be familiar with both the efficacy data and adverse effects associated with topical OTC analgesics in order to help ensure their safe use, especially since these medications are often used as first-line therapy in the management of acute and chronic pain.