Pentosan: Another Option for Aching Joints

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In September 2011, we published Dr. Grant Miller?s article on Legend vs. Adequan to help readers decide if injectable systemic joint supplements may be a good fit for their equine programs.

As a sequel, we want to take a moment to talk about Pentosan.? ?Pentosan is a nutraceutical with very impressive anti-inflammatory properties.? It works along the same lines as all of our other joint supplements: it helps to combat inflammation be stopping the release, or preventing the action of inflammatory mediators.? Some studies have found it to be 10 times as potent as some of the other joint supplements in stopping inflammatory mediator releases!? But, do laboratory observations transfer over into the real world'? Does it work in horses'? Overall, both answers are: yes.

Pentosan is currently approved for use as a post surgical joint lavage.? This means that if a surgeon opens up a joint (arthrotomy), he or she can squirt Pentosan all over it just before joint closure.? Even though this is the official label use, thousands of veterinarians worldwide have been using Pentosan systemically via intramuscular injection for use as a general joint supplement.? it's available in the United States by prescription only, and some veterinary distributors (such as MWI, Inc.) will sell it to veterinarians.? It is given intramuscularly, usually at the rate of 1 dose per week for four weeks, then backing off to once monthly.

A particularly popular brand of pentosan is PentAussie (from Australia).? it's a good product because it has been cleared for distribution by the Australian equivalent of the FDA (in other words, it is NOT compounded).? Please don't forget the potential dangers of compounded meds, ?especially injectable ones (see the December 2011). ?PentAussie is also attractive because it comes joined with an injectable formulation of glucosamine.? In essence, you are getting two joint supplements for the price of one.? PentAussie comes in individual 12 cc vials (12cc constitutes one dose) that should range between $44 and $54.? This puts it somewhere in between Adequan ($40-$44 per vial) and Legend ($72-$84 per vial) on the price spectrum.

Overall, both lab research and owner testimonial indicates that Pentosan does work to combat joint inflammation and improve performance.? Why the ?overall?'? Because, just like every other joint supplement on the market, it seems to work better in some horses than in others.? This is likely more a function of the horse that the product is given to, rather than the horse itself.

If you recall, inflammation is governed by hundreds of chemical mediators.? Legend may knock out some of them, ?Adequan may take care of others, while Pentosan has an affinity for a different group.? The ability of any given joint supplement to work depends largely on whether or not the inflammation that your horse is experiencing is mediated by the particular set of inflammatory mediators that the supplement targets.? Of course, dose amount and frequency also influences an injectable joint supplement?s ability to show results in a sore horse.

Bottom Line.

  • Pentosan is another type of injectable systemic joint supplement available on the market.
  • The cost is in between Adequan and Legend.
  • Do your homework to determine whether or not the Pentosan that you are using is compounded or ?approved.?? Beware of the dangers of compounded medications, especially injectable ones!
  • Pentosan may work in your horse (depending on the chemical mediators that predominate his inflammation) and is worth a shot if you are experiencing ongoing lameness or performance issues that would require a joint supplement.? You may also consider switching to it if you are getting lackluster results with your current joint supplement.
  • It is available by prescription only, so consult your veterinarian to determine if it is the right fit for your horse.

Article by Contributing Veterinary Editor Grant Miller, DVM