Comparison of outcome measures during treatment with the proprietary Harpagophytum extract doloteffin in patients with pain in the lower back, knee or hip

Phytomedicine. 2002 Apr;9(3):181-94. doi: 10.1078/0944-7113-00140.


Besides checking estimates of effectiveness and safety of using the proprietary Harpagophytum extract Doloteffin, this postmarketing surveillance compared various disease-specific* and generic** measures of effect. We enrolled 250 patients suffering from nonspecific low back pain (Back group: n = 104) or osteoarthritic pain in the knee (Knee group: n = 85) or hip (Hip group: n = 61). They took an 8-week course of Doloteffin at a dose providing 60 mg harpagoside per day. The measures of effect on pain and disability included the percentage changes from baseline of established instruments (Arhus low back pain index*, WOMAC index*, German version of the HAQ**) and unvalidated measures (total pain index*, three score index*, the patient's global assessment** of the effectiveness of treatment). Patients also received a diary for the daily recording of their pain and any additional treatments for it. The three groups differed in age, weight and characteristics of initial pain. 227 patients completed the study. Multivariate analysis confirmed that several dimensions of effect were recorded by the several outcome measures but, in all groups, both the generic and disease-specific outcome measures improved by week 4 and further by 8. In multivariable analysis, the improvement tended to be more when the initial pain and disability score was more: older patients tended to improve less than younger, the hip group tended to improve convincingly more than the back group, whereas the improvement in the knee group was less readily differentiated from that in the back group. The subgroup of Back patients who required NSAIDs during the 8 weeks used significantly more per patient than patients in the other two groups, but that requirement also declined more with time. About 10% of the patients suffered from minor adverse events that could possibly have been attributable to Doloteffin. Between 50% and 70% of the patients benefitted from Doloteffin with few adverse effects. Thus, Doloteffin is well worth considering for osteoarthritic knee and hip pain and nonspecific low back pain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesics / adverse effects
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Harpagophytum*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / drug therapy
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / drug therapy
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / pathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics
  • Doloteffin
  • Plant Extracts