Background: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit both cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). It is not known whether a specific inhibitor of COX-2 will provide efficacy in osteoarthritis (OA) comparable with NSAIDs. Therefore, we compared the efficacy and safety of the rofecoxib, which specifically inhibits COX-2, with those of the NSAID ibuprofen in patients with OA.
Objective: To compare the clinical efficacy and tolerability of rofecoxib (12.5 and 25 mg once daily) with ibuprofen (800 mg 3 times daily).
Methods: A randomized, double-blind trial of 809 adults with OA was conducted. Patients with OA in whom the knee or hip was the primary source of pain were randomized to 1 of 4 treatment groups on demonstration of disease activity: placebo; rofecoxib, 12.5 or 25 mg once daily; or ibuprofen, 800 mg 3 times daily. Clinical efficacy and safety were monitored during a 6-week treatment period.
Results: Both doses of rofecoxib demonstrated efficacy clinically comparable with ibuprofen as assessed by 3 primary end points (pain walking on a flat surface [Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index], patient global assessment of response to therapy, and investigator global assessment of disease status) according to predefined comparability criteria. Both rofecoxib doses and the ibuprofen dose provided significantly (P<.001) greater efficacy than placebo on all primary end points. Results from secondary end points were consistent with those of the primary end points. All treatments were well tolerated; the overall incidence rates of clinical adverse experiences were not significantly different (P>.05) among the treatment groups.
Conclusion: Rofecoxib was well tolerated and provided clinical efficacy comparable with a high dose of the NSAID ibuprofen.