Tolerance of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-sensitive patients to the highly specific cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors rofecoxib and valdecoxib

Mario Sánchez-Borges, Fernan Caballero-Fonseca, Arnaldo Capriles-Hulett
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2005, 94 (1): 34-8

BACKGROUND: Selective inhibitors of cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) are generally tolerated by patients sensitive to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that inhibit COX-1. Valdecoxib is a new sulfonamide-containing COX-2-specific inhibitor indicated for the treatment of acute pain, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the clinical tolerance to rofecoxib and valdecoxib in patients who previously developed urticaria and angioedema while taking classic NSAIDs.

METHODS: Patients with challenge-proven NSAID cutaneous sensitivity were submitted to single-blinded controlled oral challenges with rofecoxib, 50 mg, and valdecoxib, 40 mg.

RESULTS: Twenty-eight patients (19 females and 9 males; mean +/- SD age, 28.6 +/- 15.0 years; age range, 10-61 years) participated in this study. Twenty-two (85%) of 26 patients who underwent skin tests were atopic, as demonstrated by a clinical history of rhinitis and/or asthma plus positive immediate-type skin hypersensitivity test results. A previous exclusive cutaneous reaction pattern (urticaria and/or angioedema) had occurred in 10 patients (36%), whereas a mixed pattern of skin and respiratory symptoms had occurred in 18 patients (64%). Twenty patients (71%) were multiple reactors, and 8 patients (28%) were single reactors. In this current study, 2 patients (7%) taking rofecoxib experienced angioedema, and 1 patient (4%) taking valdecoxib experienced urticaria.

CONCLUSIONS: Rofecoxib and valdecoxib can be safely used by most NSAID-sensitive patients with cutaneous reactions. Our findings suggest that isolated cross-reactions may occur in these patients, and for this reason, controlled oral provocation may be prudent when prescribing valdecoxib or rofecoxib for patients who have previously had urticaria or angioedema triggered by NSAIDs.

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