Objectives: Many elderly patients are prescribed both low-dose aspirin (ASA), for cardiovascular protection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain control. Compared with non-selective NSAIDs (NS-NSAIDs), celecoxib has a superior gastrointestinal (GI) safety profile in general. It is unclear, however, whether this fact holds good among patients taking ASA. We compared GI hospitalization rates among elderly patients taking celecoxib, NS-NSAIDs, celecoxib and ASA or NS-NSAIDs and ASA.
Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study using Quebec government databases. All patients 65 yrs of age or older who filled a prescription for celecoxib or an NS-NSAID between April 1999 and December 2002 were included. Cox regression models were used to compare the GI hospitalization rates between the four exposure categories adjusting for potential confounders.
Results: A total of 332 491 patients were included. Among 1 522 307 celecoxib prescriptions, 430 214 were filled by patients concurrently receiving ASA (celecoxib and ASA); 195 369 of 863 646 NS-NSAID prescriptions were filled by patients receiving ASA (NS-NSAID and ASA). Celecoxib without ASA was less likely than NS-NSAID without ASA to be associated with GI hospitalization [hazard ratio (HR) 0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.33-0.50]; celecoxib and ASA was also less likely to be associated with GI hospitalization than NS-NSAID and ASA (HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.48-0.80); GI hospitalization rates were similar for celecoxib and ASA and NS-NSAID without ASA (HR 1.01, 95% CI 0.81-1.25).
Conclusion: Among elderly patients receiving cardiovascular protection with ASA and pain control with anti-inflammatory drugs, celecoxib may be safer with regards to GI toxicity than NS-NSAIDs.