Adverse drug interactions with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Recognition, management and avoidance

Drug Saf. 1993 Feb;8(2):99-127. doi: 10.2165/00002018-199308020-00002.


The prevalence and incidence of adverse drug interactions involving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) remains unknown. To identify those proposed drug interactions of greatest clinical significance, it is appropriate to focus on interactions between commonly used and/or commonly coprescribed drugs, interactions for which there are numerous well documented case reports in reputable journals, interactions validated by well designed in vivo human studies and those affecting high-risk drugs and/or high-risk patients. While most interactions between NSAIDs and other drugs are pharmacokinetic, NSAID-related pharmacodynamic interactions may be considerably more important in the clinical context, and prescriber ignorance is likely to be a major determinant of many adverse drug interactions. Prescribing NSAIDs is relatively contraindicated for patients on oral anticoagulants due to the risk of haemorrhage, and for patients taking high-dose methotrexate due to the dangers of bone marrow toxicity, renal failure and hepatic dysfunction. Combination NSAID therapy cannot be justified as toxicity may be increased without any improvement in efficacy. Where lithium or anti-hypertensives are coprescribed with NSAIDs, close monitoring is mandatory for lithium toxicity and hypertension, respectively, and aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or sulindac are preferred. Phenytoin or oral hypoglycaemic agents may be administered with NSAIDs other than pyrazoles and salicylates provided that patients are monitored carefully at the initiation and cessation of NSAID treatment. Digoxin, aminoglycosides and probenecid may be coprescribed with NSAIDs, but close monitoring is required, particularly for high-risk patients such as the elderly. Indomethacin and triamterene should be avoided due to the risk of renal failure. High dose aspirin should be replaced by naproxen in patients on valproic acid (sodium valproate) and care is required when corticosteroids are administered to patients taking salicylates long term in high dosage. Interactions between NSAIDs and antacids or cholestyramine are generally avoidable. Adverse drug interactions involving NSAIDs may be limited by rational prescribing and by careful monitoring, particularly for high-risk patients, drugs and therapy periods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal