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Etoricoxib is a medication a doctor may prescribe to treat acute pain and inflammation in patients with a variety of conditions, including arthritis. This drug is known by the brand name Arcoxia® and is available selectively around the world. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved the drug for sale due to its similarity to other medications known to cause potentially serious medical complications like stroke and heart disease. In regions where the drug is on the market, doctors may use different prescribing practices.
This drug is part of a family of medications known as cyclooxygenase inhibitors (COX inhibitors). They work by limiting the production of prostaglandins, compounds the body produces to send pain signals. Etoricoxib focuses on COX-2, a specific type of prostaglandin involved in inflammatory reactions, and will reduce pain, inflammation, and fever in the patient. It largely ignores COX-1, which produces beneficial compounds to protect the stomach lining, among many other things.
Patients on etoricoxib can experience fatigue, dizziness, and liver problems. The drug may in rare cases lead to skin reactions like blistering and peeling. It can also increase the risk of clotting problems that lead to cardiovascular disease and strokes, and the patient will need careful monitoring while on the medication, including regular blood pressure checks. The limited effect on COX-1 makes it less likely to cause stomach problems, but patients can still experience nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting while on etoricoxib in some cases.
Doctors may prescribe this drug preemptively for the management of postoperative pain, with the goal of limiting inflammatory reactions before they start. This will keep the patient comfortable and shorten healing time. Patients with acute pain as well as chronic inflammation can benefit from etoricoxib therapy to manage their conditions. The doctor will typically taper the dosage. She will start low and gradually increase it to find the point where it will be most effective, and it may be necessary to adjust the dose periodically.
The variation in prescribing practices for this drug means that patients may receive different recommendations in different nations. Travelers should make sure they have enough for their trips in case they end up in a country where the drug is not available or where doctors do not usually offer it. For patients who are moving, it is advisable to take a copy of their medical record to discuss their history with a new doctor.