Celebrex is a drug manufactured by Pfizer and is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It is also known as celecoxib, which is the generic name of this drug. However, in the US it is only available as Celebrex due to Pfizer owning the patent for this drug that has not yet expired.
Celecoxib is part of the sulfa non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) class of drugs and has been approved for use in the treatment of painful menstruation, acute pain, ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis and to lower the number of polyps found in the colon and rectum of patients suffering from familial adenomatous polyposis. The main goal, when developing Celebrex, was to find a pain relief drug that could be taken for the long term without having any adverse gastrointestinal side effects.
However, for the short term it is often better to opt for a conventional NSAID due to the fact that the pain relief offered by Celebrex is on the same level as acetaminophen, or more widely known as paracetamol.
Celebrex is a Cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) inhibitor, meaning that it blocks this enzyme which plays a significant role in both pain and inflammation. The COX-2 enzyme produces prostaglandins, which, among many other effects, sensitize spinal neurons to pain and regulate inflammatory mediation. By reducing the level of prostaglandins in the system, Celebrex helps to reduce pain and inflammation.
The difference between Celebrex and other standard NSAIDs such as ibuprofen is that it only acts on the COX-2 enzyme with no adverse effect on the COX-1 enzyme. Standard NSAIDs block both enzymes which is what leads to gastrointestinal problems such as stomach ulcers because the COX-1 enzyme is very important in protecting the stomach lining.
While in theory this data shows that Celebrex comes with a lower risk of causing stomach ulcer, a fact proven by a range of clinical trials in which a lower percentage of patients suffered from stomach discomfort, there is still a possibility, like with any NSAID, that patients could experience stomach bleeding or an ulcer.
Clinical trials and studies among patients taking Celebrex have revealed that this drug made moving around easier as it seemed to improve overall physical function, pain and stiffness. Likewise, it seemed that a single 200mg tablet taken daily was sufficient to provide pain relief for 24 hours to patients suffering from osteoarthritis. However, dosage and effectiveness will vary from case to case and patients should only take Celebrex at the recommendation of a doctor.
While it is used to treat the symptoms of arthritis and make motion easier for those suffering from this disease, it is not a cure nor does it prevent the progression of arthritis.
As with any type of drug, especially when it comes to NSAIDs due to the serious potential side effects, you should follow your doctor’s advice regarding dosage. Generally, the lowest does that is effective is recommended for each patient.
In the case of osteoarthritis, patients are usually given 200 mg of Celebrex per day, either as a single dose or split into two doses. When it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, the recommended dose is either 100 or 200 mg twice per day, depending on the severity of the condition.
For the treatment of menstrual cramps and other acute pain, the initial recommended dose is 400mg on the first day, taken as a single dose, with an extra 200 mg taken on the same day if the pain does not abate. If the patient is still suffering the following day, then a dose of 200 mg twice per day is recommended.
The manufacturer states that Celebrex can be taken in conjunction with low-dose aspirin, if the latter is being taken for its antiplatelet effect, in other words to reduce the risk of heart disease. However, it should be noted that they state there is no proof that taking a low-dose aspirin will have any effect on the cardiovascular risks associated with taking NSAIDs.
However, Celebrex should not be taken in conjunction with other NSAIDs such as naproxen or ibuprofen nor with regular dose aspirin as the risks of stomach and intestinal ulcers developing is much higher.
Additionally, patients on fluconazole, which is an anti-fungal medication, should only take the lowest recommended dose since this drug prevents the elimination of Celebrex, thus increasing the concentration in the body.
If you are undergoing lithium therapy, you need to be closely monitored while you are taking Celebrex due to the fact that it seems to increase the concentration of lithium in the blood stream which can lead to lithium toxicity.
Additionally, alcohol intake needs to be avoided or reduced to a minimum since it has been observed that if patients consume more than three drinks per day, the likelihood of developing an ulcer is much higher while taking NSAIDs and, by extension, this might also apply to Celebrex.
In terms of pregnancy, there is no clear data on the effect of Celebrex on the fetus as only animal studies have been conducted. In the latter, double the maximum dosage did cause a harmful effect on the fetus. However, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid taking Celebrex in their third trimester as it can lead to heart defects in the fetus.
Mothers who are breastfeeding their children should avoid taking Celebrex as it has been shown that the drug does get secreted into the milk.
Celebrex is also not recommended to anyone who has suffered an allergic reaction to aspirin or any other NSAID medication. Patients who have suffered from an asthma attack or hives should also avoid taking Celebrex.
Celebrex, like other NSAIDs, can increase the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke, which can be augmented by a pre-existing condition including cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. Additionally, this risk can be magnified if NSAIDs are taken for a long period of time.
The manufacturer recommends that Celebrex should not be taken before or after certain types of heart surgeries. Other side effects include serious skin reactions, or stomach problems such as ulcers or bleeding, which can be fatal and can occur with no warning.
Milder side effects have also been reported including an upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, headaches, gas, itching, blurred vision and nervousness.
Since the allergic reactions associated with taking NSAIDs, including Celebrex, can be extremely serious you need to follow your doctor’s recommendations to the letter. You should also inform your healthcare provider of any strange symptoms, whether or not you believe they are associated with taking the drug, as the risks are too great to overlook.