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Prescrire Int. 2007 Dec;16(92):223-7.

Etoricoxib: new drug. Avoid using cox-2 inhibitors for pain.

[No authors listed]


(1) Paracetamol is the first-choice analgesic for joint pain. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), especially ibuprofen, are second-line options. Cox-2 inhibitors are no more effective than traditional NSAIDs and have no tangible advantages in terms of gastrointestinal tolerability. In contrast, they expose patients to an increased risk of cardiovascular adverse effects. (2) Etoricoxib is marketed in some European countries to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout attacks. (3) Many clinical trials have tested etoricoxib in these indications, as well as in ankylosing spondylitis, low back pain, and various types of acute pain. Etoricoxib was no more effective than other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac in these situations. (4) Comparative trials showed a higher overall mortality rate with etoricoxib than with naproxen. A combined analysis of long-term comparative trials including 5441 patients, mainly versus naproxen, showed that etoricoxib does not reduce the risk of perforation, ulcer or severe gastrointestinal haemorrhage. Similarly, it does not reduce the risk of mild gastrointestinal events in at-risk patients: those with a history of gastrointestinal disorders, aspirin use, etc. (5) Three trials including a total of 34 701 patients (MEDAL programme) compared cardiovascular thrombotic events associated with etoricoxib and diclofenac. Overall, the cardiovascular risks appear to be similar but the thrombotic risk may be slightly higher with diclofenac than with other conventional NSAIDs. (6) Etoricoxib provoked arterial hypertension, oedema and heart failure during clinical trials. Serious skin reactions were reported both during clinical trials and after marketing, but their precise incidence is not known. Etoricoxib is partly metabolised by the cytochrome P450 isoenzyme CYP 3A4 and increases the bioavailability of ethinylestradiol. (7) When a NSAID is considered, drugs with which we have the most experience should be chosen, such as ibuprofen, and used at the lowest acceptable dose regimen (daily dose and length of treatment). Etoricoxib should be avoided.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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