An update on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors
- Cite this article as:
- Williams, G.W. Current Science Inc (2005) 9: 377. doi:10.1007/s11916-005-0017-4
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Selective inhibitors of the cyclooxygenase-2 enzyme were developed to treat pain and inflammation while reducing the risk of the serious gastrointestinal side effects seen with nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The results of several clinical trials have demonstrated an apparent increased risk of serious cardiovascular events in patients taking the COX-2-selective inhibitors. Although the risk was observed originally with trials conducted with rofecoxib, it was attributed generally to the entire class of COX-2-selective drugs based on a similar mechanism of action and a hypothesis that predicted the possibility of a prothrombotic effect of the drugs compared with nonselective NSAIDs. Subsequent studies have demonstrated that elevated cardiovascular risk is not limited to the use of COX-2-specific inhibitors. An increase in cardiovascular risk actually has been seen with antiinflammatory drugs of the NSAID class, regardless of whether they are selective or nonselective inhibitors. The US Food and Drug Administration has recommended that all such drugs carry a black box warning for gastrointestinal and cardiovascular risks.