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Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
Clinical trials of several COX-2 selective and nonselective NSAIDs of up to three years duration have shown an increased risk of serious cardiovascular (CV) thrombotic events, including myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke, which can be fatal. Based on available data, it is unclear that the risk for CV thrombotic events is similar for all NSAIDs. The relative increase in serious CV thrombotic events over baseline conferred by NSAID use appears to be similar in those with and without known CV disease or risk factors for CV disease. However, patients with known CV disease or risk factors had a higher absolute incidence of excess serious CV thrombotic events, due to their increased baseline rate. Some observational studies found that this increased risk of serious CV thrombotic events began as early as the first weeks of treatment. The increase in CV thrombotic risk has been observed most consistently at higher doses.
To minimize the potential risk for an adverse CV event in NSAID-treated patients, use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible. Physicians and patients should remain alert for the development of such events, throughout the entire treatment course, even in the absence of previous CV symptoms. Patients should be informed about the symptoms of serious CV events and the steps to take if they occur.
There is no consistent evidence that concurrent use of aspirin mitigates the increased risk of serious CV thrombotic events associated with NSAID use. The concurrent use of aspirin and an NSAID, such as rofecoxib, increases the risk of serious gastrointestinal (GI) events. (see WARNINGS; Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, and Perforation).
Status Post Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery
Two large, controlled clinical trials of a COX-2 selective NSAID for the treatment of pain in the first 10– 14 days following CABG surgery found an increased incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke. NSAIDs are contraindicated in the setting of CABG (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Observational studies conducted in the Danish National Registry have demonstrated that patients treated with NSAIDs in the post-MI period were at increased risk of reinfarction, CV-related death, and all-cause mortality beginning in the first week of treatment. In this same cohort, the incidence of death in the first year post-MI was 20 per 100 person years in NSAID-treated patients compared to 12 per 100 person years in non-NSAID exposed patients. Although the absolute rate of death declined somewhat after the first year post-MI, the increased relative risk of death in NSAID users persisted over at least the next four years of follow-up.
Avoid the use of VIOXX in patients with a recent MI unless the benefits are expected to outweigh the risk of recurrent CV thrombotic events. If VIOXX is used in patients with a recent MI, monitor patients for signs of cardiac ischemia.
In VIGOR, a study in 8076 patients (mean age 58; VIOXX n=4047, naproxen n=4029) with a median duration of exposure of 9 months, the risk of developing a serious cardiovascular thrombotic event was significantly higher in patients treated with VIOXX 50 mg once daily (n=45) as compared to patients treated with naproxen 500 mg twice daily (n=19). In VIGOR, mortality due to cardiovascular thrombotic events (7 vs 6, VIOXX vs naproxen, respectively) was similar between the treatment groups. (See Clinical Studies, Special Studies, VIGOR, Other Safety Findings: Cardiovascular Safety.) In a placebo-controlled database derived from 2 studies with a total of 2142 elderly patients (mean age 75; VIOXX n=1067, placebo n=1075) with a median duration of exposure of approximately 14 months, the number of patients with serious cardiovascular thrombotic events was 21 vs 35 for patients treated with VIOXX 25 mg once daily versus placebo, respectively. In these same 2 placebo-controlled studies, mortality due to cardiovascular thrombotic events was 8 vs 3 for VIOXX versus placebo, respectively. The significance of the cardiovascular findings from these 3 studies (VIGOR and 2 placebo-controlled studies) is unknown. Prospective studies specifically designed to compare the incidence of serious CV events in patients taking VIOXX versus NSAID comparators or placebo have not been performed.
Because of its lack of platelet effects, VIOXX is not a substitute for aspirin for cardiovascular prophylaxis. Therefore, in patients taking VIOXX, antiplatelet therapies should not be discontinued and should be considered in patients with an indication for cardiovascular prophylaxis.
Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, And Perforation
NSAIDs, including rofecoxib, cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events including inflammation, bleeding, ulceration, and perforation of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or large intestine, which can be fatal. These serious adverse events can occur at any time, with or without warning symptoms, in patients treated with NSAIDs. Only one in five patients who develop a serious upper GI adverse event on NSAID therapy is symptomatic. Upper GI ulcers, gross bleeding, or perforation caused by NSAIDs occurred in approximately 1% of patients treated for 3-6 months, and in about 2%-4% of patients treated for one year. However, even short-term NSAID therapy is not without risk.
Risk Factors For GI Bleeding, Ulceration, And Perforation
Patients with a prior history of peptic ulcer disease and/or GI bleeding who used NSAIDs had a greater than 10-fold increased risk for developing a GI bleed compared to patients without these risk factors. Other factors that increase the risk for GI bleeding in patients treated with NSAIDs include longer duration of NSAID therapy; concomitant use of oral corticosteroids, aspirin, anticoagulants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); smoking; use of alcohol; older age; and poor general health status. Most postmarketing reports of fatal GI events occurred in elderly or debilitated patients. Additionally, patients with advanced liver disease and/or coagulopathy are at increased risk for GI bleeding.
Strategies to Minimize the GI Risks in NSAID-treated patients:
- Use the lowest effective dosage for the shortest possible duration.
- Avoid administration of more than one NSAID at a time.
- Avoid use in patients at higher risk unless benefits are expected to outweigh the increased risk of bleeding. For such patients, as well as those with active GI bleeding, consider alternate therapies other than NSAIDs.
- Remain alert for signs and symptoms of GI ulceration and bleeding during NSAID therapy.
- If a serious GI adverse event is suspected, promptly initiate evaluation and treatment, and discontinue VIOXX until a serious GI adverse event is ruled out.
- In the setting of concomitant use of low-dose aspirin for cardiac prophylaxis, monitor patients more closely for evidence of GI bleeding (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS).
Although the risk of GI toxicity is not completely eliminated with VIOXX, the results of the VIOXX GI outcomes research (VIGOR) study demonstrate that in patients treated with VIOXX, the risk of GI toxicity with VIOXX 50 mg once daily is significantly less than with naproxen 500 mg twice daily. (See Clinical Studies, Special Studies, VIGOR.)
Elevations of ALT or AST (three or more times the upper limit of normal [ULN]) have been reported in approximately 1% of NSAID-treated patients in clinical trials. In addition, rare, sometimes fatal, cases of severe hepatic injury, including fulminant hepatitis, liver necrosis, and hepatic failure have been reported.
Elevations of ALT or AST (less than three times ULN) may occur in up to 15% of patients treated with NSAIDs, including rofecoxib.
In controlled clinical trials of VIOXX, the incidence of borderline elevations of liver tests at doses of 12.5 and 25 mg daily was comparable to the incidence observed with ibuprofen and lower than that observed with diclofenac.
Inform patients of the warning signs and symptoms of hepatotoxicity (e.g., nausea, fatigue, lethargy, diarrhea, pruritus, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, and “flu-like” symptoms). If clinical signs and symptoms consistent with liver disease develop, or if systemic manifestations occur (e.g., eosinophilia, rash, etc.), discontinue VIOXX immediately, and perform a clinical evaluation of the patient.
NSAIDs, including VIOXX, can lead to new onset of hypertension or worsening of pre-existing hypertension, either of which may contribute to the increased incidence of CV events. Patients taking angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, thiazide diuretics, or loop diuretics may have impaired response to these therapies when taking NSAIDs. (See PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS.)
In clinical trials of VIOXX at daily doses of 25 mg in patients with rheumatoid arthritis the incidence of hypertension was twice as high in patients treated with VIOXX as compared to patients treated with naproxen 1000 mg daily.
Monitor blood pressure (BP) during the initiation of NSAID treatment and throughout the course of therapy.
Heart Failure And Edema
The Coxib and traditional NSAID Trialists' Collaboration meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials demonstrated an approximately two-fold increase in hospitalizations for heart failure in COX-2 selective-treated patients and nonselective NSAID-treated patients compared to placebo-treated patients. In a Danish National Registry study of patients with heart failure, NSAID use increased the risk of MI, hospitalization for heart failure, and death.
Additionally, fluid retention and edema have been observed in some patients treated with NSAIDs. Use of rofecoxib may blunt the CV effects of several therapeutic agents used to treat these medical conditions (e.g., diuretics, ACE inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers [ARBs]). (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS).
Avoid the use of VIOXX in patients with severe heart failure unless the benefits are expected to outweigh the risk of worsening heart failure. If VIOXX is used in patients with severe heart failure, monitor patients for signs of worsening heart failure.
Renal Toxicity And Hyperkalemia
Long-term administration of NSAIDs has resulted in renal papillary necrosis and other renal injury.
Renal toxicity has also been seen in patients in whom renal prostaglandins have a compensatory role in the maintenance of renal perfusion. In these patients, administration of an NSAID may cause a dose-dependent reduction in prostaglandin formation and, secondarily, in renal blood flow, which may precipitate overt renal decompensation. Patients at greatest risk of this reaction are those with impaired renal function, dehydration, hypovolemia, heart failure, liver dysfunction, those taking diuretics and ACE inhibitors or ARBs, and the elderly. Discontinuation of NSAID therapy is usually followed by recovery to the pretreatment state.
No information is available from controlled clinical studies regarding the use of VIOXX in patients with advanced renal disease. The renal effects of VIOXX may hasten the progression of renal dysfunction in patients with pre-existing renal disease.
Correct volume status in dehydrated or hypovolemic patients prior to initiating VIOXX. Monitor renal function in patients with renal or hepatic impairment, heart failure, dehydration, or hypovolemia during use of VIOXX (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS). Avoid the use of VIOXX in patients with advanced renal disease unless the benefits are expected to outweigh the risk of worsening renal function. If VIOXX is used in patients with advanced renal disease, monitor patients for signs of worsening renal function.
Increases in serum potassium concentration, including hyperkalemia, have been reported with use of NSAIDs, even in some patients without renal impairment. In patients with normal renal function, these effects have been attributed to a hyporeninemic-hypoaldosteronism state.
Rofecoxib has been associated with anaphylactic reactions in patients with and without known hypersensitivity to rofecoxib and in patients with aspirin-sensitive asthma. (see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS; Exacerbation of Asthma Related to Aspirin Sensitivity.)
Seek emergency help if an anaphylactic reaction occurs.
Exacerbation Of Asthma Related To Aspirin Sensitivity
A subpopulation of patients with asthma may have aspirin-sensitive asthma which may include chronic rhinosinusitis complicated by nasal polyps; severe, potentially fatal bronchospasm; and/or intolerance to aspirin and other NSAIDs. Because cross-reactivity between aspirin and other NSAIDs has been reported in such aspirin-sensitive patients, VIOXX is contraindicated in patients with this form of aspirin sensitivity (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). When VIOXX is used in patients with preexisting asthma (without known aspirin sensitivity), monitor patients for changes in the signs and symptoms of asthma.
Serious Skin Reactions
NSAIDs, including rofecoxib, can cause serious skin adverse reactions such as exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which can be fatal. These serious events may occur without warning. Inform patients about the signs and symptoms of serious skin reactions, and to discontinue the use of VIOXX at the first appearance of skin rash or any other sign of hypersensitivity. VIOXX is contraindicated in patients with previous serious skin reactions to NSAIDs. (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).
Premature Closure Of The Fetal Ductus Arteriosus
Rofecoxib may cause premature closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus. Avoid use of NSAIDs, including VIOXX, in pregnant women starting at 30 weeks of gestation (third trimester) (see PRECAUTIONS; Pregnancy).
Anemia has occurred in NSAID-treated patients. This may be due to occult or gross blood loss, fluid retention, or an incompletely described effect on erythropoiesis. If a patient treated with VIOXX has any signs or symptoms of anemia, monitor hemoglobin or hematocrit.
VIOXX does not generally affect platelet counts, prothrombin time (PT), or partial thromboplastin time (PTT), and does not inhibit platelet aggregation at indicated dosages (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY; Clinical Studies, Special Studies, Platelets).
NSAIDs, including VIOXX, may increase the risk of bleeding events. Co-morbid conditions such as coagulation disorders, or concomitant use of warfarin, other anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents (e.g., aspirin), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) may increase this risk. Monitor these patients for signs of bleeding. (see PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS).
VIOXX cannot be expected to substitute for corticosteroids or to treat corticosteroid insufficiency. Abrupt discontinuation of corticosteroids may lead to exacerbation of corticosteroid-responsive illness. Patients on prolonged corticosteroid therapy should have their therapy tapered slowly if a decision is made to discontinue corticosteroids.
Information For Patients
Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide) that accompanies each prescription dispensed. Inform patients, families, or their caregivers of the following information before initiating therapy with VIOXX and periodically during the course of ongoing therapy.
Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events
Advise patients to be alert for the symptoms of cardiovascular thrombotic events, including chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness, or slurring of speech, and to report any of these symptoms to their health care provider immediately (see WARNINGS; Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events).
Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, And Perforation
Advise patients to report symptoms of ulcerations and bleeding, including epigastric pain, dyspepsia, melena, and hematemesis to their health care provider. In the setting of concomitant use of low-dose aspirin for cardiac prophylaxis, inform patients of the increased risk for and the signs and symptoms of GI bleeding (see WARNINGS; Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, and Perforation).
Inform patients of the warning signs and symptoms of hepatotoxicity (e.g., nausea, fatigue, lethargy, pruritus, diarrhea, jaundice, right upper quadrant tenderness, and “flu-like” symptoms). If these occur, instruct patients to stop VIOXX and seek immediate medical therapy. (See WARNINGS; Hepatotoxicity.)
Heart Failure And Edema
Advise patients to be alert for the symptoms of congestive heart failure including shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain, or edema and to contact their healthcare provider if such symptoms occur (see WARNINGS; Heart Failure and Edema).
Inform patients of the signs of an anaphylactic reaction (e.g., difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat). Instruct patients to seek immediate emergency help if these occur (see CONTRAINDICATIONS and WARNINGS, Anaphylactic Reactions. (see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS; Anaphylactic Reactions)
Serious Skin Reactions
Advise patients to stop VIOXX immediately if they develop any type of rash and to contact their healthcare provider as soon as possible (see WARNINGS; Serious Skin Reactions).
Advise females of reproductive potential who desire pregnancy that NSAIDs, including VIOXX, may be associated with a reversible delay in ovulation. (see PRECAUTIONS; Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility).
Inform pregnant women to avoid use of VIOXX and other NSAIDs starting at 30 weeks gestation because of the risk of the premature closing of the fetal ductus arteriosus (see WARNINGS; Premature Closure of Fetal Ductus Arteriosus, PRECAUTIONS; Pregnancy).
Avoid Concomitant Use Of NSAIDs
Inform patients that the concomitant use of VIOXX with other NSAIDs or salicylates (e.g., diflunisal, salsalate) is not recommended due to the increased risk of gastrointestinal toxicity, and little or no increase in efficacy (see WARNINGS; Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, and Perforation, PRECAUTIONS: DRUG INTERACTIONS). Alert patients that NSAIDs may be present in “over the counter” medications for treatment of colds, fever, or insomnia.
Use Of NSAIDs And Low-Dose Aspirin
Inform patients that VIOXX is not a substitute for aspirin for cardiovascular prophylaxis because of its lack of effect on platelets. Therefore, in patients taking VIOXX, antiplatelet therapies should not be discontinued and should be considered in patients with an indication for cardiovascular prophylaxis.
Masking Of Inflammation And Fever
The pharmacological activity of VIOXX in reducing inflammation, and possibly fever, may diminish the utility of these diagnostic signs in detecting infectious complications of presumed noninfectious, painful conditions.
Because serious GI bleeding, hepatotoxicity, and renal injury can occur without warning symptoms or signs, consider monitoring patients on long-term NSAID treatment with a CBC and a chemistry profile periodically (see WARNINGS; Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, and Perforation; Hepatotoxicity; and Renal Toxicity and Hyperkalemia)
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Rofecoxib was not carcinogenic in mice given oral doses up to 30 mg/kg (male) and 60 mg/kg (female) (approximately 5- and 2-fold the human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24) and in male and female rats given oral doses up to 8 mg/kg (approximately 6- and 2-fold the human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24) for two years.
Rofecoxib was not mutagenic in an Ames test or in a V-79 mammalian cell mutagenesis assay, nor clastogenic in a chromosome aberration assay in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, in an in vitro and an in vivo alkaline elution assay, or in an in vivo chromosomal aberration test in mouse bone marrow.
Impairment Of Fertility
Rofecoxib did not impair male fertility in rats at oral doses up to 100 mg/kg (approximately 20- and 7-fold human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on the AUC0-24) and rofecoxib had no effect on fertility in female rats at doses up to 30 mg/kg (approximately 19- and 7-fold human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24).
Pregnancy Category C prior to 30 weeks gestation; Category D starting at 30 weeks gestation.
Use of NSAIDs, including VIOXX, during the third trimester of pregnancy increases the risk of premature closure of the fetal ductus arteriosus. Avoid use of NSAIDs, including VIOXX, in pregnant women starting at 30 weeks of gestation (third trimester).
There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of VIOXX in pregnant women. Data from observational studies regarding potential embryofetal risks of NSAID use in women in the first or second trimesters of pregnancy are inconclusive. In the general U.S. population, all clinically recognized pregnancies, regardless of drug exposure, have a background rate of 2-4% for major malformations, and 15-20% for pregnancy loss. Rofecoxib was not teratogenic in rats at doses up to 50 mg/kg/day (approximately 28- and 10-fold human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24). There was a slight, non-statistically significant increase in the overall incidence of vertebral malformations only in the rabbit at doses of 50 mg/kg/day (approximately 1- or < 1-fold human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24). Based on animal data, prostaglandins have been shown to have an important role in endometrial vascular permeability, blastocyst implantation, and decidualization. In animal studies, administration of prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors such as rofecoxib, resulted in increased pre- and post-implantation loss.
Rofecoxib produced peri-implantation and post-implantation losses and reduced embryo/fetal survival in rats and rabbits at oral doses ≥ 10 and ≥ 75 mg/kg/day, respectively (approximately 9- and 3-fold [rats] and 2- and < 1-fold [rabbits] human exposure based on the AUC0-24 at 25 and 50 mg daily). These changes are expected with inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis and are not the result of permanent alteration of female reproductive function. There was an increase in the incidence of postnatal pup mortality in rats at ≥ 5 mg/kg/day (approximately 5- and 2-fold human exposure at 25 and 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24). In studies in pregnant rats administered single doses of rofecoxib, there was a treatment-related decrease in the diameter of the ductus arteriosus at all doses used (3-300 mg/kg: 3 mg/kg is approximately 2- and < 1-fold human exposure at 25 or 50 mg daily based on AUC0-24). As with other drugs known to inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, use of VIOXX during the third trimester of pregnancy should be avoided.
Labor Or delivery
There are no studies on the effects of VIOXX during labor or delivery. In animal studies, NSAIDS, including rofecoxib, inhibit prostaglandin synthesis, cause delayed parturition, and increase the incidence of stillbirth. Rofecoxib produced no evidence of significantly delayed labor or parturition in females at doses 15 mg/kg in rats (approximately 10- and 3-fold human exposure as measured by the AUC0-24 at 25 and 50 mg). The effects of VIOXX on labor and delivery in pregnant women are unknown.
Rofecoxib is excreted in the milk of lactating rats at concentrations similar to those in plasma. There was an increase in pup mortality and a decrease in pup body weight following exposure of pups to milk from dams administered VIOXX during lactation. The dose tested represents an approximate 18- and 6-fold human exposure at 25 and 50 mg based on AUC0-24. It is not known whether this drug is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from VIOXX, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother. The developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding should be considered along with the mother's clinical need for VIOXX and any potential adverse effects on the breastfed infant from VIOXX or from the underlying maternal condition.
Based on the mechanism of action, the use of prostaglandin-mediated NSAIDs, including VIOXX, may delay or prevent rupture of ovarian follicles, which has been associated with reversible infertility in some women. Published animal studies have shown that administration of prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors has the potential to disrupt prostaglandin-mediated follicular rupture required for ovulation. Small studies in women treated with NSAIDs have also shown a reversible delay in ovulation. Consider withdrawal of NSAIDs, including VIOXX, in women who have difficulties conceiving or who are undergoing investigation of infertility.
The use of VIOXX in patients with pauciarticular or polyarticular course JRA ≥ 2 years to ≤ 17 years of age was studied in pharmacokinetic studies and a 12-week, double-blind active-controlled study with a 52-week open-label extension. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Pediatric; Clinical Studies, Pediatric Patients, Pauciarticular and Polyarticular Course Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA); ADVERSE REACTIONS, Pauciarticular and Polyarticular Course JRA.) Rofecoxib has not been studied in patients under the age of 2 years, with body weight less than 10 kg (22 lbs.), or in children with systemic type JRA.
Elderly patients, compared to younger patients, are at greater risk for NSAID-associated serious cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and/or renal adverse reactions. If the anticipated benefit for the elderly patient outweighs these potential risks, start dosing at the low end of the dosing range, and monitor patients for adverse effects (see the following subsections under WARNINGS: Cardiovascular Thrombotic Events; Gastrointestinal Bleeding, Ulceration, and Perforation; Hepatotoxicity; and Renal Toxicity and Hyperkalemia).
Of the patients who received VIOXX in osteoarthritis clinical trials, 1455 were 65 years of age or older. This included 460 patients who were 75 years or older, and in one of these studies, 174 patients who were 80 years or older. No substantial differences in safety and effectiveness were observed between these subjects and younger subjects. Greater sensitivity of some older individuals cannot be ruled out. As with other NSAIDs, including those that selectively inhibit COX-2, there have been more spontaneous post-marketing reports of fatal GI events and acute renal failure in the elderly than in younger patients. Dosage adjustment in the elderly is not necessary; however, therapy with VIOXX should be initiated at the lowest recommended dose.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 5/23/2016
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