Last updated on RxList: 5/23/2016
Vioxx Side Effects Center

Last reviewed on RxList 02/17/2017

Vioxx (rofecoxib) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and certain forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; to manage acute pain in adults; to treat migraines; and to treat menstrual pain. The brand name Vioxx was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004 and is no longer available. Generic versions may be available. Common side effects of Vioxx (rofecoxib) include:

Dosage of rofecoxib is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. Rofecoxib may interact with aspirin or other salicylates, over-the-counter cough, cold, allergy, or pain medicine that contains aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or ketoprofen, diuretics (water pills), ACE inhibitors, steroids, blood thinners, methotrexate, theophylline, lithium, or rifampin. Tell your doctor all medications you are taking. This medication should not be taken in the third trimester of pregnancy because it may affect the formation of the baby's heart. Do not take rofecoxib without talking to your doctor if you are pregnant or could become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Vioxx (rofecoxib) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. See Answer
Vioxx Professional Information



Approximately 3600 patients with osteoarthritis were treated with VIOXX; approximately 1400 patients received VIOXX for 6 months or longer and approximately 800 patients for one year or longer. The following table of adverse experiences lists all adverse events, regardless of causality, occurring in at least 2% of patients receiving VIOXX in nine controlled studies of 6-week to 6-month duration conducted in patients with OA at the therapeutically recommended doses (12.5 and 25 mg), which included a placebo and/or positive control group.

Clinical Adverse Experiences occurring in ≥ 2.0% of Patients Treated with VIOXX in OA Clinical Trials

(N = 783)
VIOXX 12.5 or 25 mg daily
(N = 2829)
Ibuprofen 2400 mg daily
(N = 847)
Diclofenac 150 mg daily
(N = 498)
Body As A Whole/Site Unspecified
  Abdominal Pain 4.1 3.4 4.6 5.8
  Asthenia/Fatigue 1.0 2.2 2.0 2.6
  Dizziness 2.2 3.0 2.7 3.4
  Influenza-Like Disease 3.1 2.9 1.5 3.2
  Lower Extremity Edema 1.1 3.7 3.8 3.4
  Upper Respiratory Infection 7.8 8.5 5.8 8.2
Cardiovascular System
  Hypertension 1.3 3.5 3.0 1.6
Digestive System
  Diarrhea 6.8 6.5 7.1 10.6
  Dyspepsia 2.7 3.5 4.7 4.0
  Epigastric Discomfort 2.8 3.8 9.2 5.4
  Heartburn 3.6 4.2 5.2 4.6
  Nausea 2.9 5.2 7.1 7.4
Eyes, Ears, Nose, And Throat
  Sinusitis 2.0 2.7 1.8 2.4
Musculoskeletal System
  Back Pain 1.9 2.5 1.4 2.8
Nervous System
  Headache 7.5 4.7 22 6.1 8.0
Respiratory System
Bronchitis 0.8   2.0 1.4 3.2
Urogenital System
  Urinary Tract Infection 2.7 2.8 2.5 3.6

In the OA studies, the following spontaneous adverse events occurred in > 0.1% to 1.9% of patients treated with VIOXX regardless of causality:

Body as a Whole: abdominal distension, abdominal tenderness, abscess, chest pain, chills, contusion, cyst, diaphragmatic hernia, fever, fluid retention, flushing, fungal infection, infection, laceration, pain, pelvic pain, peripheral edema, postoperative pain, syncope, trauma, upper extremity edema, viral syndrome.

Cardiovascular System: angina pectoris, atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, hematoma, irregular heartbeat, palpitation, premature ventricular contraction, tachycardia, venous insufficiency.

Digestive System: acid reflux, aphthous stomatitis, constipation, dental caries, dental pain, digestive gas symptoms, dry mouth, duodenal disorder, dysgeusia, esophagitis, flatulence, gastric disorder, gastritis, gastroenteritis, hematochezia, hemorrhoids, infectious gastroenteritis, oral infection, oral lesion, oral ulcer, vomiting.

Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat: allergic rhinitis, blurred vision, cerumen impaction, conjunctivitis, dry throat, epistaxis, laryngitis, nasal congestion, nasal secretion, ophthalmic injection, otic pain, otitis, otitis media, pharyngitis, tinnitus, tonsillitis.

Immune System: allergy, hypersensitivity, insect bite reaction.

Metabolism and Nutrition: appetite change, hypercholesterolemia, weight gain.

Musculoskeletal System: ankle sprain, arm pain, arthralgia, back strain, bursitis, cartilage trauma, joint swelling, muscular cramp, muscular disorder, muscular weakness, musculoskeletal pain, musculoskeletal stiffness, myalgia, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, traumatic arthropathy, wrist fracture.

Nervous System: hypesthesia, insomnia, median nerve neuropathy, migraine, muscular spasm, paresthesia, sciatica, somnolence, vertigo.

Psychiatric: anxiety, depression, mental acuity decreased.

Respiratory System: asthma, cough, dyspnea, pneumonia, pulmonary congestion, respiratory infection.

Skin and Skin Appendages: abrasion, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, basal cell carcinoma, blister, cellulitis, contact dermatitis, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, nail unit disorder, perspiration, pruritus, rash, skin erythema, urticaria, xerosis.

Urogenital System: breast mass, cystitis, dysuria, menopausal symptoms, menstrual disorder, nocturia, urinary retention, vaginitis.

The following serious adverse events have been reported rarely (estimated < 0.1%) in patients taking VIOXX, regardless of causality. Cases reported only in the post-marketing experience are indicated in italics.

Cardiovascular: cerebrovascular accident, congestive heart failure, deep venous thrombosis, hypertensive crisis, myocardial infarction, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, transient ischemic attack, unstable angina.

Gastrointestinal: cholecystitis, colitis, colonic malignant neoplasm, duodenal perforation, duodenal ulcer, esophageal ulcer, gastric perforation, gastric ulcer, gastrointestinal bleeding, hepatic failure, hepatitis, intestinal obstruction, jaundice, pancreatitis.

Hemic and lymphatic: agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, leukopenia, lymphoma, pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia.

Immune System: anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reaction, angioedema, bronchospasm, hypersensitivity vasculitis.

Metabolism and nutrition: hyponatremia.

Nervous System: aseptic meningitis, epilepsy aggravated.

Psychiatric: confusion, hallucinations.

Skin and Skin Appendages: photosensitivity reactions, severe skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis.

Urogenital System: acute renal failure, breast malignant neoplasm, hyperkalemia, interstitial nephritis, prostatic malignant neoplasm, urolithiasis, worsening chronic renal failure.

In 1-year controlled clinical trials and in extension studies for up to 86 weeks (approximately 800 patients treated with VIOXX for one year or longer), the adverse experience profile was qualitatively similar to that observed in studies of shorter duration.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Approximately 1,100 patients were treated with VIOXX in the Phase III rheumatoid arthritis efficacy studies. These studies included extensions of up to 1 year. The adverse experience profile was generally similar to that reported in the osteoarthritis studies. In studies of at least three months, the incidence of hypertension in RA patients receiving the 25 mg once daily dose of VIOXX was 10.0% and the incidence of hypertension in patients receiving naproxen 500 mg twice daily was 4.7%.

Analgesia, Including Primary Dysmenorrhea

Approximately one thousand patients were treated with VIOXX in analgesia studies. All patients in post-dental surgery pain studies received only a single dose of study medication. Patients in primary dysmenorrhea studies may have taken up to 3 daily doses of VIOXX, and those in the post-orthopedic surgery pain study were prescribed 5 daily doses of VIOXX.

The adverse experience profile in the analgesia studies was generally similar to those reported in the osteoarthritis studies. The following additional adverse experience, which occurred at an incidence of at least 2% of patients treated with VIOXX, was observed in the post-dental pain surgery studies: post-dental extraction alveolitis (dry socket).

Migraine With Or Without Aura

Approximately 750 patients were treated with a single dose of VIOXX 25 mg or 50 mg in two single-attack migraine studies. Approximately 460 patients in the 3-month extension phase of one study treated up to 8 (average 3) migraine attacks per month. In single attack studies, the following adverse events were more frequent in the VIOXX treatment groups (25 mg and 50 mg) compared to the placebo group, and occurred at an incidence of at least 2% of patients treated: dizziness, nausea, somnolence and dyspepsia. In the 3-month extension phase of one study, the following adverse events occurred at an incidence of at least 2% of patients treated in the VIOXX treatment groups (25 mg and 50 mg): dizziness, dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting.

Clinical Studies In OA And RA With VIOXX 50 mg (Twice the highest dose recommended for chronic use)

In OA and RA clinical trials which contained VIOXX 12.5 or 25 mg as well as VIOXX 50 mg, VIOXX 50 mg QD was associated with a higher incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, epigastric pain, heartburn, nausea and vomiting), lower extremity edema, hypertension, serious* adverse experiences and discontinuation due to clinical adverse experiences compared to the recommended chronic doses of 12.5 and 25 mg (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Pauciarticular And Polyarticular Course Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

In a 12-week study, 209 JRA patients, ≥ 2 years to ≤ 17 years of age, were treated with rofecoxib; 109 and 100 patients were treated with lower-dose rofecoxib and higher-dose rofecoxib, respectively. In a 52-week open-label extension, 160 JRA patients, ≥ 2 years to ≤ 17 years of age, were treated with higher-dose rofecoxib for up to 15 months. No new adverse experiences were identified other than a single case of pseudoporphyria (a photo-induced blistering reaction), an adverse event that has been seen in patients with JRA treated with non-selective NSAIDs. In this 12-week study, the most common adverse experiences (at 0.6 mg/kg dose) were upper abdominal pain, nasopharyngitis, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection, abdominal pain, headache and rhinitis. Rash was also reported.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Vioxx (Rofecoxib)


What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis See Slideshow

© Vioxx Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Vioxx Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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