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Clin Pharm. 1989 Aug;8(8):545-58.

Diclofenac sodium.

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  • Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298-0581.


The pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, clinical efficacy, adverse effects, and dosage of diclofenac sodium are reviewed. Diclofenac, the first nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent (NSAID) to be approved that is a phenylacetic acid derivative, competes with arachidonic acid for binding to cyclo-oxygenase, resulting in decreased formation of prostaglandins. The drug has both analgesic and antipyretic activities. Diclofenac is efficiently absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract; peak plasma concentrations occur 1.5 to 2.0 hours after ingestion in fasting subjects. Even though diclofenac has a relatively short elimination half-life in plasma (1.5 hours), it persists in synovial fluid. The drug is metabolized in the liver and is eliminated by urinary and biliary excretion. In clinical trials, diclofenac was as effective as aspirin, diflunisal, indomethacin, sulindac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen in improving function and reducing pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. For treatment of osteoarthritis, diclofenac was equivalent in efficacy to aspirin, diflunisal, indomethacin, sulindac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen, flurbiprofen, mefenamic acid, and piroxicam. Diclofenac was as effective as indomethacin or sulindac in treating ankylosing spondylitis. The most frequent adverse effects reported for diclofenac were gastrointestinal, but these effects were fewer and less serious than occurred with aspirin or indomethacin; in addition, diclofenac caused fewer central nervous system reactions than indomethacin. Diclofenac is administered in divided doses with meals. The recommended total daily dosage is 100 to 150 mg (osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis) or 150 to 200 mg (rheumatoid arthritis). Diclofenac is effective, but no more so than other NSAIDs. It is structurally distinct and offers another choice in the treatment of rheumatological conditions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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