The safety profile, tolerability, and effective dose range of rofecoxib in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

Thomas J. Schnitzer, Ken Truitt*, Roy Fleischmann, Paul Dalgin, Joel Block, Qi Zeng, James Bolognese, Beth Seidenberg, Elliot W. Ehrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) inhibit both cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 isoenzymes and are effective in the treatment of inflammatory disorders. This 8-week, double-masked, placebo- controlled trial was undertaken to assess the safety profile, tolerability, and effective dose range of once-daily rofecoxib, a COX-2-specific inhibitor, in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). After a 3- to 15-day washout of prior NSAID therapy, 658 patients were randomly allocated to receive placebo or rofecoxib 5 mg, 25 mg, or 50 mg once daily. Safety profile, tolerability, and efficacy were evaluated after 2, 4, and 8 weeks of therapy. Six hundred fifty-eight patients (168, 158, 171, and 161 in the placebo and 5-mg, 25-mg, and 50-mg rofecoxib groups, respectively) were enrolled at 79 clinical centers in the United States. Mean age was 55 years, mean duration of RA was 10 years, and 506 (77%) of the 658 patients were female. All groups had similar baseline demographic characteristics. Patients taking rofecoxib 25 and 50 mg showed significant clinical improvement compared with those taking placebo; 43.9% in the rofecoxib 25-mg group and 49.7% in the rofecoxib 50-mg group completed the treatment period and achieved an American College of Rheumatology 20 response (P = 0.025 and 0.001 vs placebo, respectively). The 5-mg dose of rofecoxib did not differ significantly from placebo. Patients in the rofecoxib 25- and 50-mg groups showed significant improvement in key individual efficacy measurements, including patient global assessment of pain, patient and investigator global assessment of disease activity, and Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (P < 0.05 vs placebo). Compared with placebo, significantly fewer patients in the 25-mg and 50-mg rofecoxib groups discontinued therapy because of lack of efficacy (P = 0.02 and P = 0.032, respectively). Our results show that rofecoxib 25 and 50 mg once daily was effective and generally well-tolerated in patients with RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1688-1702
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • COX-2-specific inhibitors
  • Cyclooxygenase
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rofecoxib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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