Since the September 2004 recall of Vioxx, recent studies have raised questions about the potential side effects of COX-2 inhibitors. For more information, please see Understanding COX-2 Inhibitor Side Effects.

Celebrex is the brand name of a prescription pain medication in the COX-2 inhibitor class of drugs. The active ingredient in Celebrex is celecoxib. Celebrex works by reducing inflammation, which often is a component of arthritis, back pain and neck pain.

Brand name


Active ingredient



NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug)


Pfizer Inc.

FDA approval

December 31, 1998

Indications for Celebrex

Celebrex is approved use for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis in adults, painful menstrual cramps, and acute pain in adults.

Contraindications for Celebrex

Patients who should not take Celebrex include:

  • Patients allergic to celecoxib or any other ingredients of Celebrex
  • Patients allergic to sulfonamide-type drugs or sulfa
  • Persons who have experienced asthma, hives, or allergic reactions after taking aspirins or other NSAIDs
  • Women who are in late pregnancy

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Dosage of Celebrex

Celebrex may be taken as a 100 mg or 200 mg pill. Dosage of Celebrex is based on the patient’s medical condition and response to therapy.

The FDA has recommended the following dosages for Celebrex:

  • For osteoarthritis, oral dosage of 100 mg twice daily or 200 mg once daily.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, oral dosage of 100 mg twice daily to 200 mg twice daily.
  • For acute pain or painful menstrual cramps, oral dosage of 400 mg initially followed by 200 mg the same day if needed. Oral dosage of 200 mg twice daily thereafter.

Patients should always be careful to not take more than the prescribed dosage of the medication.

Usage of Celebrex

Celebrex may be taken with or without food.

If a dose of Celebrex is missed, the patient may take it as soon as remembered, unless it is near the time of the next dose, in which case the patient should skip the missed pill and take the next dose at the right time.

Celebrex should be stored at room temperature and away from light and moisture.

Possible Side Effects and Warnings for Celebrex

As with all NSAIDs, there is a risk of stomach problems when taking Celebrex. Although this is a very rare side effect with Celebrex, it is still possible, and the risk increases with prolonged use.

Celebrex and other NSAIDs may cause stomach ulcers that bleed,1 and patients should stop using Celebrex and call their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Burning pain in the stomach
  • Dark stools that look like tar or blood in the stools
  • Vomit resembling blood or coffee grounds

Celebrex and other NSAIDs can also lead to liver damage. Warning signs include nausea, vomiting, tiredness, appetite loss, itching, yellow coloring of skin or eyes, flu-like symptoms and dark urine. Patients experiencing any of these symptoms should discontinue use of Celebrex immediately and consult their physician.1

Recent study results for Celebrex are inconclusive, but some studies show an increased risk for cardiovascular problems. More information is available at Vioxx Recall and NSAID Side Effects.

In addition to liver damage, stomach problems and heart problems, other rare but serious side effects of Celebrex include serious allergic reactions and kidney problems.

Some less serious side effects of Celebrex can include headache, indigestion, upper respiratory tract infections, diarrhea, sinus inflammation, stomach pain, and nausea.

The most common Celebrex side effects experienced by patients participating in clinical studies included stomachache, diarrhea, and headache.

General precautions

In light of new concerns regarding potential NSAID side effects, patients currently taking Celebrex should talk to their physicians to evaluate their individual treatment needs and risk factors (such as cardiovascular problems). Additional patient information can be found at Safe Use of COX-2 Inhibitors and Other NSAIDs.

Patients should never take Celebrex or any other medications without first discussing it with their doctor. It is important to discuss any other medications that are being taken (including those taken without a prescription and vitamins/supplements), and to be complete and accurate in providing a medical history to the doctor.

Patients who have any reaction to aspirin (such as asthma) or other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) may be sensitive to Celebrex and other COX-2 inhibitors.

Daily use of alcohol or excessive alcohol consumption may increase the patient’s risk of serious stomach problems.

Extra caution is warranted for elderly patients taking Celebrex, as elderly patients tend to be more susceptible to possible side effects.

It is not yet known whether or not Celebrex can pass through breast milk and affect infants who are breastfeeding.

Important update on Celebrex and other NSAIDs

Since the original publication of this article, the potential side effects of COX-2 inhibitors and other NSAIDs have received heightened attention from the FDA and the drugs’ manufacturers. The FDA has issued new guidelines for prescribing this class of drugs and has called for additional research.