Arthritis Home > Pennsaid

A prescription product, Pennsaid is a medication used to relieve pain and other symptoms caused by osteoarthritis of the knee. It works to treat pain and improve joint function by blocking the production of various inflammatory substances in the body. The solution comes in two strengths and is usually applied to the skin four times a day. Possible side effects include skin reactions at the application site.

What Is Pennsaid?

Pennsaid® (diclofenac sodium topical solution) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.
(Click Pennsaid Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes Pennsaid?

Pennsaid is made by Novo Manufacturing for Mallinckrodt Brand Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

How Does It Work?

Pennsaid belongs to a group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Like other NSAIDs, it works by blocking a specific enzyme known as cyclooxygenase (COX), limiting the production of various inflammatory substances in the body.
Because Pennsaid works mostly where it is applied (only a small percentage of the medication actually reaches the rest of the body), this helps to lower the drug's exposure to the rest of the body, which may decrease the risk of dangerous side effects.
Pennsaid solution contains dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an inactive ingredient that allows for better absorption of the medication through the skin.

Clinical Effects

This medication has been evaluated thoroughly in clinical studies. These studies compared Pennsaid to a placebo (a solution with no active ingredients). These studies demonstrated that Pennsaid was significantly better than the placebo for relieving arthritis pain and improving function of the joint.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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