Drug Safety

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 49–54 | Cite as

Adverse Events Associated with Rofecoxib Therapy

Results of a Large Study in Community-Derived Osteoarthritic Patients
  • Bernard Bannwarth
  • Richard Trèves
  • Liana Euller-Ziegler
  • Denis Rolland
  • Philippe Ravaud
  • Maxime Dougados
Original Research Article


Objective: To evaluate the safety profile of rofecoxib, a selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor, in patients with osteoarthritis who are receiving care in non-hospital practice settings.

Design: All patients participating in a large 24-week, open-label, non-pharmacological intervention trial were given rofecoxib for painful osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. They started at a dose of 12.5mg once daily for the first month, with the option of increasing to 25mg daily thereafter, if needed for efficacy. Adverse events were closely monitored. We considered all adverse events that occurred during treatment and within 14 days of discontinuation of rofecoxib.

Patient Group Studied: 2896 patients (861 males and 2035 females) were involved in the safety analysis. Their mean (SD) age was 66.8 (9.9) years, and 631 patients (21.8%) were aged ≥75 years. There were 913 patients (31.5%) with hypertension and 151 (5.2%) with diabetes mellitus at the start of the study; 78 patients (2.7%) had a prior medical history of angina and/or myocardial infarction. The mean (SD) duration of rofecoxib treatment was 139 (62) days.

Results: A total of 519 patients (17.9%) discontinued rofecoxib. The main reasons for discontinuation were dyspepsia (4.4%), nausea (2.4%) and dizziness (2.1%). The annualised incidence rates (95% CI) of complicated and uncomplicated upper gastrointestinal ulcers, myocardial infarction, and stroke were 1.36 (0.76–2.23), 0.09 (0–0.50) and 0.45 (0.16–1.05), respectively.

Conclusion: This study conducted in conditions close to daily practice confirms that the use of rofecoxib is associated with a low rate of serious adverse events in patients with osteoarthritis.


Rofecoxib PGI2 Adverse Drug Event Untoward Event Annualise Incidence Rate 
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This study was funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme-Chibret, Paris, France. The authors thank all French rheumatologists who participated as investigators in this study, and Dr Jean-Sylvain Larguier for his contribution to the analysis of the data.

Professor Bannwarth, Dr Rolland, Professor Ravaud and Professor Dougados have received research support, grants, honoraria and/or consultancy fees from Merck Sharp & Dohme-Chibret, France. No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard Bannwarth
    • 1
  • Richard Trèves
    • 2
  • Liana Euller-Ziegler
    • 3
  • Denis Rolland
    • 4
  • Philippe Ravaud
    • 5
  • Maxime Dougados
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Rheumatology Groupe Hospitalier Pellegrin and Division of TherapeuticsUniversité Victor SegalenBordeauxFrance
  2. 2.Department of Rheumatology and TherapeuticsHôpital DupuytrenLimogesFrance
  3. 3.Department of RheumatologyHôpital L’ArchetNiceFrance
  4. 4.Department of RheumatologyCentre Hospitalier GénéralBourgesFrance
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology and BiostatisticsHôpital BichatParisFrance
  6. 6.Department of RheumatologyHôpital CochinParisFrance

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