Background: Adverse reactions to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are frequent, particularly among patients with chronic urticaria or asthma. The need to identify an alternative drug that is safe and reliable is a common problem in clinical practice.
Objective: To assess the tolerability of meloxicam, a new NSAID that selectively inhibits the inducible isoform of cyclooxygenase, in a group of NSAID-sensitive patients.
Patients and methods: We studied 177 patients who had suffered adverse reactions to one or more NSAIDs. Cutaneous reactions were reported by 83.1% of the subjects (urticaria in 55, angioedema in 52, urticaria/angioedema in 39, and maculopapular rash in 1), respiratory symptoms by 3.9%, both cutaneous and respiratory symptoms by 9%, Stevens-Johnson's syndrome by 2.3%, and anaphylactoid reactions by 1.7%. All subjects underwent a single-blind, placebo-controlled oral challenge with divided therapeutic doses of meloxicam (1.9 mg + 5.6 mg 1 hour later = cumulative dose 7.5 mg).
Results: Positive reactions were observed in only two cases (1.1%), both manifested exclusively by cutaneous symptoms (urticaria/angioedema in one case and maculopapular rash/facial edema in the second).
Conclusion: Meloxicam seems to be well tolerated by NSAID-sensitive subjects whose reactions are manifested by urticaria/angioedema. Additional study is needed for a more complete assessment of its tolerability in patients with aspirin-induced asthma and other severe manifestations of NSAID sensitivity.