Anna Liachenko, BSc, MSc
Despite potentially serious side effects, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are currently one of the very few options available for alleviating chronic pain and inflammation. Over the past 30 years, scientists searched for safer NSAIDs and managed to create the 20 different drugs and 40 dosing options currently available in Canada. While some of the newer drugs turned out to be safer than others, their design was based largely on trial-and-error. A recent major breakthrough in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of NSAID action allowed researchers to methodically design a new class of NSAIDs. These new drugs, the Cox-2 Inhibitors or C-2SIs, are not only comparable to the older NSAIDs in efficacy but are also (at least in theory) devoid of some of the most serious side effects. One of these drugs, celecoxib (Celebrex) has just become available in the US and Canada. Another, rofecoxib (Vioxx) is under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US and the Health Protection Branch (HPB) in Canada. Moreover, increased safety of some of the previously approved NSAIDs is now thought to be attributed to the same molecular mechanism. Newly arriving NSAIDs as well as the best NSAID options currently available in Canada are discussed below.
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