Imrecoxib: Advances in Pharmacology and Therapeutics

Drug Des Devel Ther. 2024 May 22:18:1711-1725. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S464485. eCollection 2024.


Imrecoxib, a cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), was discovered via the balanced inhibition strategy of COX-1/COX-2. It is indicated for the relief of painful symptoms of osteoarthritis. There have been some pharmacological and therapeutic advances since the approval of imrecoxib in 2011. However, an update review in this aspect is not yet available. Relevant literature until January 2024 was identified by search of PubMed, Web of science, Embase and CNKI. From the perspective of efficacy, imrecoxib provides relief of osteoarthritis symptoms, and potential off-label use for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, perioperative pain, hand-foot syndrome, axial spondyloarthritis, COVID-19, cartilage injury, and malignancies such as lung and colon cancer. From a safety point of view, imrecoxib showed adverse effects common to NSAIDs; however, it has lower incidence of new-onset hypertension than other types of selective COX-2 inhibitors, less gastrointestinal toxicities than non-selective NSAIDs, weaker risk of drug interaction than celecoxib, and more suitable for elderly patients due to balanced inhibition of COX-1/COX-2. From a pharmacoeconomic perspective, imrecoxib is more cost-effective than celecoxib and diclofenac for osteoarthritis patients. With the deepening of the disease pathophysiology study of osteoarthritis, new therapeutic schemes and pharmacological mechanisms are constantly discovered. In the field of osteoarthritis treatment, mechanisms other than the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of COX-2 inhibitors are also being explored. Taken together, imrecoxib is a moderate selective COX-2 inhibitor with some advantages, and there would be more clinical applications and research opportunities in the future.

Keywords: cyclooxygenase-2; efficacy; imrecoxib; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug; older adults; osteoarthritis; safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors* / adverse effects
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors* / pharmacology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis* / drug therapy


  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Cyclooxygenase 2