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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Jan;17(2):201-10.

Complementary studies of the gastrointestinal safety of the cyclo-oxygenase-2-selective inhibitor etoricoxib.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, McMaster University Medical Center, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



Cyclo-oxygenase-2-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are intended to preserve cyclo-oxygenase-1-mediated gastroprotection and platelet function, whilst inhibiting cyclo-oxygenase-2-mediated inflammation.


To assess the gastrointestinal safety of the cyclo-oxygenase-2-selective inhibitor etoricoxib vs. non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


Two randomized, double-blind, placebo- and active-controlled studies were performed: (i) daily faecal red blood cell loss was measured in 62 subjects receiving etoricoxib (120 mg once daily), ibuprofen (800 mg t.d.s.) or placebo for 28 days; (ii) the incidence of endoscopically detectable gastric/duodenal ulcers was determined in 742 osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving etoricoxib (120 mg once daily), naproxen (500 mg b.d.) or placebo over 12 weeks.


In the first study, the between-treatment ratio of faecal blood loss for etoricoxib vs. placebo (1.06) was not significantly different from unity; however, the ratios for ibuprofen vs. placebo (3.26) and etoricoxib (3.08) were significantly greater than unity (P < 0.001). In the second study, the incidence of ulcers of > or = 3 mm with naproxen (25.3%) was significantly higher than that with etoricoxib (7.4%) or placebo (1.4%; P < 0.001); the results were similar for ulcers of > or = 5 mm.


The reduced toxicity of etoricoxib (less faecal blood loss and fewer endoscopically detectable lesions) suggests that use of this drug will may be associated with a reduced incidence of gastrointestinal perforations, ulcers and bleeds.

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