Celebrex – Safety and side effects
Who can take Celebrex?
Celebrex (celecoxib) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Acute pain in adults
It is not suitable for use in people who:
- Have had an asthma attack, hives, or other types of allergic reaction after taking aspirin or any other kind of NSAID
- Are about to have, or have just had, certain types of heart surgeries (such as a heart bypass)
- Have bleeding in the stomach or intestine
- Are in the late stages of pregnancy
What information does a patient’s healthcare provider need before prescribing Celebrex?
Before prescribing Celebrex, healthcare providers need to know if the patient:
- Has a history of ulcers or bleeding in the stomach or intestines
- High blood pressure or heart failure
- Kidney or liver problems
- Is pregnant or breastfeeding
- Has any other medical conditions
- Is taking any other medications and/or supplements
What serious side effects can be caused by taking Celebrex?
Treatment with NSAID medications, including Celebrex, can cause an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. This is a higher risk for people who have heart disease and/or have been taking NSAIDs for a long time.
NSAID medicines can also cause ulcers and bleeding in the stomach or intestines. This can happen at any time and can sometimes happen without the patient realizing it. These effects can even be life threatening. This risk is higher for people who:
- Are taking corticosteroid or anticoagulant medications
- Have been taking NSAIDs for a long time
- Smoke or drink alcohol
- Are older
- Are in poor health
Other serious side effects that can be caused by Celebrex or other NSAIDs include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Kidney and liver problems
- Low levels of red blood cells (anemia)
- Life-threatening skin reactions or other allergic reactions
- Asthma attacks (for people with asthma)
Patients should stop taking NSAIDs and seek emergency help if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- Nausea or stomach pain
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Vomiting blood
- Bowel movements that are bloody, or black and sticky
- Skin rash or blisters with fever
- Unusual weight gain
- Swelling in the arms, legs, hands or feet
What side effects are most commonly linked to taking Celebrex?
During the clinical trials that tested the safety and effectiveness of Celebrex, the following side effects were reported by more than 2% of patients who took part in the studies:
- Stomach pain
- Swelling of the arms, legs, hands or feet
- Accidental injury
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Upper respiratory tract infection
Does Celebrex cause the same gastrointestinal side effects as other NSAIDs?
For some people, taking NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects related to the stomach and intestines. Studies have been carried out to find out whether Celebrex is linked to the same number of GI side effects as other NSAIDs, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and diclofenac. One study found that significantly fewer people taking Celebrex reported GI side effects, and were less likely to stop taking Celebrex due to side effects, compared to people taking naproxen, ibuprofen, or diclofenac.
- Celebrex [package insert]. New York City, NY: Pfizer, Inc. 1998.