Contre les douleurs de règles, le Spasfon n’est pas un placebo

Contre les douleurs de règles, le Spasfon n’est pas un placebo

Years of stomach aches treated with a medicine that tastes like candy: the famous Spasfon. Every month, it’s the same story for women with severe pain during their periods. In pharmacies, Spasfon seems to be the miracle solution given to all victims of what is called “dysmenorrhea”, pain that occurs during menstrual cycles.

Enough to slide the term “Spasfon” into the top of Twitter trends last Thursday. Behind the hashtag, all opinions are unanimous: this drug, which is often shown as the only remedy, would in fact be useless. It is in particular the publication of an Internet user who launched the riot, believing that the molecule is not effective against dysmenorrhea and should not be used as an analgesic. The tweet spreads quickly. “I have never seen such an ineffective drug. Put it in the category: sweets please”, launches a scoop. “The real woman knows that Spasfon does nothing when you have your period,” adds a second.

Worse yet, according to the “whistleblower” Internet user, the Spasfon -beyond its uselessness- would have a placebo effect, acting only in the psychological aspect. What is it really? 20 minutes he pondered the question.

FAKE

First of all, you should know that Spasfon is considered an antispasmodic. According to Vidal’s medical dictionary, the drug “combats abnormal and painful contractions of the intestine, bile ducts, urinary tract and uterus.” It can be used for gallstones, kidney colic, or painful periods. Except that for the latter case, its use is not safe.

According to a report issued in 2008 by the High Health Authority (HAS), Spasfon shows efficacy in the disappearance of pelvic pain after three days of treatment. However, we can also read in this report: “No recommendation recommends the use of antispasmodics during pelvic pain whatever its etiology (dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, IUD installation, etc.). These specialties should be considered as a coadjuvant treatment”. The report also recommends more specific therapeutic alternatives for this pain, in particular level I analgesics. These are better known by the name of Ibuprofen, but we will come back to this.

few alternatives

Why is Spasfon seen as the holy grail of period pain in all pharmacies? We went to ask Bruno Maleine, the director of the National Order of Pharmacists. “Available to the pharmacist, like that, without a prescription, we also don’t have many alternatives to offer a patient,” says the pharmacist. In the absence of anything better, Spasfon remains the effective treatment “to respond to a request at time T to try to relieve the patient.”

This ranking “for lack of better” is also found in a previous survey published in 2017 by the magazine 60 million consumers. It showed that among over-the-counter drugs [61 en tout], only a small minority was really effective. Like twenty other products, Spasfon was classified as having “low or unproven efficacy, but few or rare side effects”.

No placebo effect

The National Order of Pharmacists also wants to be reassuring: even if Spasfon is an antispasmodic, it is quite possible to use it for all gynecological problems, “including contractions in pregnant women”. “The most important thing is to know that it is not dangerous to your health,” he adds. On the other hand, the leader of the pharmacists refutes the idea according to which Spasfon would have a placebo effect. “We cannot qualify it as such since it is an antispasmodic that acts on the muscles.”

Bruno Maleine, however, assures that he has a leading role to play according to the pain experienced by women. “At the pharmacy counter it is also our job to explain to the patient that there are many different origins for these menstrual pains and that there must be medical care, that there are effective and targeted treatments,” says the president of the National Order. of Pharmacists. Hormonal treatment or a progestogen pill could, for example, be discussed with the treating doctor or gynecologist.

“You can also use steroidal anti-inflammatories, for example ibuprofen. But you still have to be careful, with all the precautions for use that you may have, ”warns our interlocutor. As for level II pain relievers that contain codeine, they are now sold by prescription. And there you have to pay attention to the risk of dependency.”

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