Systematic review of the analgesic efficacy and tolerability of COX-2 inhibitors in post-operative pain control

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    Objective: To evaluate the relative analgesic efficacy and tolerability of single-dose COX-2 inhibitors in post-operative pain management. Method: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Outcome measures: The area under the pain relief vs. time curve was used to evaluate the proportion of patient achieving at least 50% pain relief using validated equations. The proportions of patients experiencing any adverse event or specific adverse events were also examined. Results: In all, 18 RCTs were included which contained 2783 patients. The results of the effects of single-dose analgesics on the basis of 50% of patients achieving pain relief over 6 h from dental pain models suggested that oral rofecoxib 50 mg was more effective than codeine/paracetamol 60/600 mg, and the rate ratio (RR) was 2-11 (95% CI 1.6-2.75). Valdecoxib 40 mg was also more effective than oxycodone/paracetamol 10/ 1000 mg (RR 1.34; 95% CI 1.11-1.62). There was no significant differences between other oral COX-2 inhibitors and non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drags (NSAIDs), except that celecoxib 200 mg was less effective than ibuprofen 400 mg (RR 0.66; 95% CI 0.48-0.90) and rofecoxib 50 mg (RR 0.65; 95% CI 0.49-0.87). The results from orthopaedic pain model showed no significant difference between rofecoxib 50 mg and naproxen sodium 550 mg (RR 1.04; 95% CI 0.73-1.49). The adverse effects of single-dose COX-2 inhibitor used in short-term post-operative pain management were generally mild and less than non-selective NSAIDs, although there was no significant difference. Conclusions: The analgesic efficacy and tolerability of single-dose COX-2 inhibitors were more effective than opioid-containing analgesics and similar to non-selective NSAIDs in post-operative pain management. Further studies are needed to examine the efficacy and tolerability of COX-2 inhibitors compared against active comparators over a longer duration to assess whether these short-term effects are mirrored by longer-term outcomes and to determine their ultimate risk-benefit profile.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)215-229
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2004


    • Adverse events
    • Analgesic efficacy
    • Meta-analysis
    • Post-operative pain management
    • Selective COX-2 inhibitor
    • Systematic review


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