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Drug Metab Dispos. 2000 Oct;28(10):1244-54.

The absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of rofecoxib, a potent and selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, in rats and dogs.

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  • 1Department of Drug Metabolism, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania and Rahway, New Jersey, USA.


Absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion studies were conducted in rats and dogs with rofecoxib (VIOXX, MK-0966), a potent and highly selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). In rats, the nonexponential decay during the terminal phase (4- to 10-h time interval) of rofecoxib plasma concentration versus time curves after i.v. or oral administration of [(14)C]rofecoxib precluded accurate determinations of half-life, AUC(0-infinity) (area under the plasma concentration versus time curve extrapolated to infinity), and hence, bioavailability. After i.v. administration of [(14)C]rofecoxib to dogs, plasma clearance, volume of distribution at steady state, and elimination half-life values of rofecoxib were 3.6 ml/min/kg, 1.0 l/kg, and 2.6 h, respectively. Oral absorption (5 mg/kg) was rapid in both species with C(max) occurring by 0.5 h (rats) and 1.5 h (dogs). Bioavailability in dogs was 26%. Systemic exposure increased with increasing dosage in rats and dogs after i.v. (1, 2, and 4 mg/kg), or oral (2, 5, and 10 mg/kg) administration, except in rats where no additional increase was observed between the 5 and 10 mg/kg doses. Radioactivity distributed rapidly to tissues, with the highest concentrations of the i.v. dose observed in most tissues by 5 min and by 30 min in liver, skin, fat, prostate, and bladder. Excretion occurred primarily by the biliary route in rats and dogs, except after i.v. administration of [(14)C]rofecoxib to dogs, where excretion was divided between biliary and renal routes. Metabolism of rofecoxib was extensive. 5-Hydroxyrofecoxib-O-beta-D-glucuronide was the major metabolite excreted by rats in urine and bile. 5-Hydroxyrofecoxib, rofecoxib-3',4'-dihydrodiol, and 4'-hydroxyrofecoxib sulfate were less abundant, whereas cis- and trans-3,4-dihydro-rofecoxib were minor. Major metabolites in dog were 5-hydroxyrofecoxib-O-beta-D-glucuronide (urine), trans-3, 4-dihydro-rofecoxib (urine), and 5-hydroxyrofecoxib (bile).

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