Background: Acute attacks of gouty arthritis are characterized by the rapid onset of severe pain, swelling, and erythema of the affected joint. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are considered the drugs of first choice for treating acute gout. Rofecoxib is a specific cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, which has demonstrated analgesic efficacy in the setting of acute pain. Whether it is effective in the treatment of acute gouty arthritis remains to be evaluated.
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and tolerability of rofecoxib compared with diclofenac sodium sustained release (SR) and meloxicam in the treatment of acute gouty arthritis.
Methods: In this single-blind, randomized, controlled, parallel-group study, patients aged > or =18 years with acute gout within 48 hours of onset were randomized to receive oral treatment with 2 tablets of rofecoxib (25 mg), diclofenac (75 mg), or meloxicam (7.5 mg) once daily for 7 days. The primary outcome measures were patients global assessment of response to therapy and investigator assessment of response to therapy on days 3 and 8. Other efficacy measurements included investigator assessment of total inflammatory scores on days 3 and 8 and patient assessment of pain intensity during the first 12 hours of treatment.
Results: Sixty-two patients (53 men, 9 women; mean [SD] age, 51.1 [12.1] years) were assigned to receive rofexocib (n = 20), diclofenac (n = 21), or meloxicam (n = 21). For patient global response to therapy on days 3 and 8, rofecoxib was associated with analgesic efficacy in significantly more patients compared with meloxicam (84.2% vs 40.0% of patients [ P=0.005] and 94.7% vs 60.0% of patients [ P=0.02], respectively); no significant differences versus diclofenac were found. Similarly, for investigator global assessment of response to therapy, a greater percentage of responders was found in the rofecoxib group compared with the meloxicam group on day 3 (88.9% vs 40.0% of patients [ P=0.02 ]), but the difference was not significant on day 8. A greater percentage of responders was found in the rofecoxib group compared with the diclofenac group on day 3 (88.9% vs 47.3% [ P=0.007 ]), but the difference was not significant on day 8. Compared with baseline, all regimens showed significant improvement in total inflammatory scores on days 3 and 8 (all P<0.01 ). During the first 12 hours after dosing, pain intensity score was significantly reduced with rofecoxib starting at 0.5 hours ( P<0.05 ), but not with diclofenac or meloxicam. Clinical adverse events (AEs) were reported in 4 (20.0%), 7 (33.3%), and 6 (28.6%) patients in the rofecoxib, diclofenac, and meloxicam groups, respectively; the most common AEs reported were edema in 1 patient each in the rofecoxib (5.0%) and meloxicam (4.8%) groups and 2 patients (9.5%) in the diclofenac group and abdominal (1 [5.0%], 1 [4.8%], and 2 [9.5%], respectively). No significant differences in tolerability were found among the 3 treatment groups.
Conclusions: In this study of patients with acute gouty arthritis, rofecoxib 50 mg once daily provided more effective treatment than diclofenac sodium SR 150 mg and meloxicam 15 mg administered orally once daily for 7 days in > or = 1 efficacy assessment of overall analgesic effect on day 3 or day 8. Rofecoxib achieved a rapid onset of pain relief, demonstrating significant improvement 30 minutes after dosing. All of the regimens appeared well tolerated in the population studied.