Back to Journals » Drug, Healthcare and Patient Safety » Volume 1

Prevention of NSAID-related upper gastrointestinal toxicity: a meta-analysis of traditional NSAIDs with gastroprotection and COX-2 inhibitors

Authors Rostom A, Muir K, Dube C, Lanas A, Jolicoeur E, Tugwell P

Published 28 October 2009 Volume 2009:1 Pages 47—71


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Alaa Rostom1, Katherine Muir2, Catherine Dube3, Angel Lanas4, Emilie Jolicoeur3, Peter Tugwell3

1University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; 2University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 3University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 4University Hospital Lozano Blesa, Instituto Aragones de Ciencias de la Salud, Zaragoza, Spain

Background: Traditional NSAIDs (tNSAIDs) and COX-2 inhibitors (COX-2s) are important agents for the treatment of a variety or arthritic conditions. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the effectiveness of misoprostol, H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs), and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for the prevention of tNSAID related upper gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity, and to review the upper gastrointestinal (GI) safety of COX-2s.

Methods: An extensive literature search was performed to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of prophylactic agents used for the prevention of upper GI toxicity, and RCTs that assessed the GI safety of the newer COX-2s. Meta-analysis was performed in accordance with accepted techniques.

Results: 39 gastroprotection and 69 COX-2 RCTs met inclusion criteria. Misoprostol, PPIs, and double doses of H2RAs are effective at reducing the risk of both endoscopic gastric and duodenal tNSAID-induced ulcers. Standard doses of H2RAs are not effective at reducing the risk of tNSAID-induced gastric ulcers, but reduce the risk of duodenal ulcers. Misoprostol is associated with greater adverse effects than the other agents, particularly at higher doses. COX-2s are associated with fewer endoscopic ulcers and clinically important ulcer complications, and have fewer treatment withdrawals due to GI symptoms than tNSAIDS. Acetylsalicylic acid appears to diminish the benefit of COX-2s over tNSAIDs. In high risk GI patients, tNSAID with a PPI or a COX-2 alone appear to offer similar GI safety, but a strategy of a COX-2 with a PPI appears to offer the greatest GI safety.

Conclusion: Several strategies are available to reduce the risk of upper GI toxicity with tNSAIDs. The choice between these strategies needs to consider patients’ underlying GI and cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: NSAID, gastrointestinal toxicity, COX-2 inhibitors

Creative Commons License © 2009 The Author(s). This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.