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Am J Med. 2000 Aug 15;109(3):201-6.

A randomized trial measuring fecal blood loss after treatment with rofecoxib, ibuprofen, or placebo in healthy subjects.

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McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Gastrointestinal microbleeding, as assessed by the measurement of (51)chromium-labeled red blood cells, is a marker of the mucosal injury associated with the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This study tested the hypotheses that cyclooxygenase-2 specific inhibition with rofecoxib would cause less fecal blood loss than a therapeutic dose of ibuprofen and would be equivalent to placebo.


In this randomized, double-blind group study, gastrointestinal blood loss was assessed by measurement of fecal (51)chromium radioactivity during a 1-week placebo baseline period and during 4 weeks of treatment with rofecoxib (25 mg or 50 mg once daily), ibuprofen (800 mg three times daily), or placebo in 67 healthy subjects. Gastrointestinal blood loss during treatment weeks 2 to 4 (versus the baseline period) was expressed as the geometric mean ratio of fecal radioactivity in weeks 2 to 4 compared with baseline.


Ibuprofen caused significantly (P <0.001) greater gastrointestinal blood loss (geometric mean ratio of 5.2, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.2 to 6.3) than the 25-mg dose of rofecoxib (2.6, 95% CI: 2.2 to 3.1), the 50-mg dose of rofecoxib (2.6, 95% CI: 2.2 to 3.0), or placebo (2.1, 95% CI: 1.8 to 2.5). In contrast, gastrointestinal blood loss with both doses of rofecoxib were equivalent to placebo by a predetermined clinical similarity bound.


In healthy subjects, treatment with rofecoxib, at 2 to 4 times the doses that are currently recommended for the treatment of patients with osteoarthritis, produced significantly less fecal blood loss than a therapeutic dose of ibuprofen and was equivalent to placebo.

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