Celebrex, a drug used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, causes fewer gastrointestinal upsets than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
According to Dr. Jay Goldstein of the University of Illinois at Chicago, a category of drugs called COX-2 inhibitors work as well as or better than NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen, indomethicin, naproxen) to control some of the symptoms associated with arthritis. In the study, patients who used Celebrex, or its generic counterpart celecoxib, were free from the side effects connected with use of NSAIDs despite the fact that patients received four times more than the highest recommended dose.
The Long-term Arthritis Safety Study (CLASS) studied Celebrex and its side effects over a 13-month period. Nearly 6000 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and over 2000 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) took daily doses of three drugs: 2400 mg of ibuprofen (brand names of Motrin, Advil, etc.), 150 mg of diclofenac (brand names of Volteren) and 800 mg of celecoxib (brand name Celebrex.)
Those taking Celebrex had fewer ulcer complications, blood loss and GI problems. The benefits to drug users were clear. “The findings are strong and convincing,” said Goldstein, medical director of clinical resource management of the University of Illinois Hospital Clinics in Chicago and a member of both the American College of Gastroenterologists and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
“Many physicians feel that patients requiring short-term administration of traditional NSAIDs are not at risk for a serious gastrointestinal event,” Goldstein added. “These results tell a different story, highlighting that many of the events caused by traditional NSAIDs occurred within the first few weeks.”
Celebrex resulted in fewer side effects.
The groups taking NSAIDs had higher incidence of GI bleeding than those taking Celebrex. And despite the recent debates about cardiovascular safety and COX-2 Inhibitors, celecoxib patients had no increase in cardiovascular events (stroke, MI) compared to those using NSAIDs.
A separate study found that celecoxib could be taken at four times the maximum dose without serious side effects. Ulcers are a complication that can also arise from using NSAIDs. In the CLASS study, those using Celebrex did not develop ulcers.