Rofecoxib (Vioxx)

What is Vioxx?

Vioxx has been removed from the market by the manufacturer. Read more about it at FDA Vioxx Advisory Committee

Rofecoxib is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for osteoarthritis to reduce pain and inflammation and to ease mild to moderate pain.

Brand Names and International Availability:

Vioxx (US)

How does it work?

Rofecoxib works by inhibiting prostaglandin production, primarily by the inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2. It does not inhibit cyclooxygenase-1, which supposedly makes it easier on the stomach than traditional NSAIDs.

FDA approved:

May 1999


The recommended starting dose of rofecoxib is 12.5 mg once daily. The maximum recommended daily dose is 25 mg.

How should I take it?

Take the medicine with a glass of water. If rofecoxib upsets your stomach, take it with food or milk.


Those who have had a prior allergic reaction to other NSAIDs should not take rofecoxib.

Rofecoxib should be avoided in those with a history of peptic ulcer or GI bleeding.

Rofecoxib should be avoided in those with a history of kidney problems.

Rofecoxib is not recommended during late pregnancy or in nursing mothers.

The effects of Rofecoxib have not been studied in children.

Drug Interactions:

Rofecoxib can increase the effect of anti-coagulants.

Rofecoxib should not be taken with any other NSAIDs.

Possible side effects:

These side effects are not considered serious but are certainly annoying for those experiencing them. The most frequently reported side effects include constipation or diarrhea, dizziness, gas or heartburn, increased sensitivity to the sun or ultraviolet light, minor upset stomach, dizziness, and headache.

More serious side effects that you should report right away include blood in urine, black, tarry stools, dark yellow or brown urine, difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, skin rash, hives, redness, blistering, peeling or itching, stomach tenderness, pain, bleeding, or cramps, unexplained weight gain or edema, and yellowing of eyes or skin.

Signs of a possible allergic reaction are rash, swelling and difficulty breathing. These symptoms should be reported immediately.

Precautions & Special Notes:

You will be required to have frequent blood work while on this medication. It is very important that you keep all lab and doctor?s appointments.

If you get black, tarry stools or vomit up what looks like coffee grounds, call your doctor at once. You may have a bleeding ulcer.

For more information:

RxList Rofecoxib
MedicineNet Rofecoxib

Pharm Info Net Rofecoxib

Mosby’s GenRx, 10th ed. Copyright 2000 Mosby, Inc.