The genetically engineered drug which works by inhibiting an inflammatory substance called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) has already found a place in treatment of autoimmune disorders such as arthritis Press TV released.
A new study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine scientists showed that etanercept is not a better option for reducing inflammatory reactions involved in sciatica because it can cause side effects such as hip arthritis, stomach ulcers and a decrease in immunity.
“This treatment has generated a lot of hype because specialists have been desperate for a safe way to treat back pain," said lead author Steven Cohen. “But it's turning out to be a big disappointment in this study.”
The study involved 84 patients with low back pain, who either received two spinal injections of etanercept, steroid or a placebo for comparison.
After one month, patients on steroids reported greater leg pain relief and felt better overall than counterparts who received placebo or etanercept.
In the sixth month, however, patients in the placebo and etanercept groups showed slightly more improvement compared to those who got steroid injections, says the article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
"We found a pretty strong suggestion that steroids were better than both of the other treatments, and the etanercept wasn't better than saline, in the short-term," concluded Dr. Cohen.
“People are desperate for a safer, more effective drug,” he noted. “This new treatment shows a lot of promise, but at least in the doses we gave it -- the dose known to be safe -- steroids still work better. And in those lower doses, etanercept may not be the drug everyone's hoping it is. There's still a lot more work to be done."