Painkillers prescribed in combination are a waste of time, according to a recent large study.
The study, conducted in 30 British hospitals, found that there is no difference in benefits between paracetamol combined with other drugs and paracetamol on its own. Analgesic drug combinations are widely available over the counter and account for 73 per cent of all paracetamol prescriptions.
In the study of 500 patients, it was found that the difference in pain intensity between paracetamol-dextropropoxyphene (a particularly popular combination) and paracetamol was only 7.3 per cent and that there was no difference in pain relief.
In addition, compared with the placebo, the combination drug produced more dizziness, whereas paracetamol on its own resulted in more drowsiness (BMJ, 1997;315:1565).