Osteoarthritis: A Large and Growing Medical Problem

OA, also referred to as degenerative joint disease, is the most common joint disease in the United States, affecting 27 million Americans, with numbers expected to grow as a result of aging, obesity and sports injuries.

  • With the U.S. population between the ages of 45 and 64 having grown 31.5% from 2000 through 2010 and accounting for 26.4% of the total population, we expect changing demographics will likely contribute to a growing number of OA patients.
  • Approximately 35.0% of U.S. adults are obese, which increases the risk of developing OA
  • Knee injury is common, particularly amongst young athletes, and increases the risk of developing OA by more than fivefold.

As an example, one in two Americans is expected to develop symptomatic knee OA, the most common form of OA, during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recent research estimates that the average age of physician-diagnosed knee OA has fallen by 16 years, from age 72 in the 1990s to age 56 in the 2010s. According to the same research, Americans between the ages of 35 and 84 in the early 2010s will account for approximately 6.5 million new cases of knee OA over the next decade.

Current therapies for OA are suboptimal. Oral drugs, while they may offer adequate analgesia for early-stage OA pain, are associated with serious side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiovascular events, and, importantly, are eventually ineffective at managing OA pain as the disease progresses. IA therapies, including steroids and HA preparations, are generally well-tolerated but provide pain relief that is insufficient or inadequate in duration. All IA therapies approved for OA are immediate-release suspensions or solutions that leave the joint within hours to days and are absorbed systemically, which may result in undesirable side effects.