Short-term and long-term tolerability of rofecoxib in patients with prior reactions to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Eustachio Nettis, Maria Cristina Colanardi, Antonio Ferrannini, Alfredo Tursi
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2005, 94 (1): 29-33

BACKGROUND: Rofecoxib is a selective cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitor and is well tolerated as an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in patients with a previous adverse reaction to other classes of NSAIDs. Until now, there has not been information in the literature about its long-term tolerability.

OBJECTIVE: To provide follow-up data on patients with a history of adverse cutaneous reactions to NSAIDs who underwent and tolerated a challenge test with rofecoxib.

METHODS: Study patients had historically experienced cutaneous adverse reactions to aspirin and NSAIDs and had undergone single-blind challenges with rofecoxib, 25 mg. A questionnaire was distributed to all participants. In particular, they were asked to clarify any reactive symptoms they had developed after ingestion of the drug. All patients were reexamined 1 to 3 years after testing. At reexamination, they were carefully and personally interviewed using the previously distributed questionnaire.

RESULTS: Of the 182 patients who participated in the study, none reacted to rofecoxib during single-blind challenges. Fifty-one (28%) never received rofecoxib again, whereas 131 (72%) were exposed to rofecoxib, often on multiple occasions. Only 7 (5%) of the 131 patients reported cutaneous reactions to rofecoxib during the 3 years of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Rofecoxib appears to be a safe alternative drug among atopic individuals, antibiotic-hypersensitive individuals, and individuals who experienced adverse cutaneous reactions to more than 1 class of NSAIDs, but it is less safe among chronic urticaria patients. Further investigations that include a larger sample are required to confirm our results especially among chronic urticaria patients.

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