Etoricoxib is the active ingredient of Arcoxia.

General information

Etoricoxib is prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation in patients with various types of arthritis. It is also used to treat acute gout attacks.

Because it has a more selective action, etoricoxib has a lower risk of causing stomach irritation and bleeding compared to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It should however be prescribed with caution to anyone with heart disease.

Your doctor may need to follow your progress while you are taking this medication, especially if you are elderly or have heart, liver or kidney disease. It is important that you use the lowest dose that controls your pain and you should not take etoricoxib for longer than necessary. This is because the risk of heart attacks and strokes might increase after prolonged treatment, especially with high doses.

Etoricoxib can also increase your blood pressure, particularly if taken in high doses. This could increase the risk of heart attack or stroke even further. Your doctor should check your blood pressure from time to time, to make sure that it is safe to continue treatment.

Etoricoxib should not be taken if you are allergic to sulphonamides, or if you have asthma.

How does etoricoxib work?

Etoricoxib is a selective anti-inflammatory, meaning that it blocks the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) responsible for prostaglandin (chemicals that play a role in pain and inflammation) synthesis without affecting the enzyme COX-1, involved in the production of prostaglandins that protect the lining of the stomach against stomach ulcers.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 3

Available as: etoricoxib is available as tablets

What does it do? Etoricoxib has a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory action.

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is etoricoxib available as a generic? no

Is Etoricoxib available on prescription only? yes

User information

Dietary advice: etoricoxib can be taken with or without food

Stopping this medicine: unless used for long periods of time, this drug can be safely stopped when no longer needed.

Prolonged use: etoricoxib should be used for the shortest period possible at the lowest effective dose. Periodic kidney and liver function test should be performed and patients should contact prescriber if any symptoms related to stomach ulcers appear.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you are allergic to sulphonamides
  • you have asthma, or if you have previously found that medication such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs cause wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • you have a stomach or duodenal ulcer
  • you have heart disease
  • you have liver or kidney disease
  • you have high blood pressure
  • you are lactose-intolerant
  • you have diabetes
  • you are smoking
  • you are dehydrated
  • you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • you are younger than 18
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 18.

The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as they are at greater risk of experiencing side effects

Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication as it may increase the risk of stomach irritation.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases




stomach pain












unusual tiredness/ weakness



rash/ itchy skin



mild swelling






sore throat or flu-like symptoms



difficulty breathing



yellowish discoloration of skin or eyes



black/bloody faeces/vomit




drug interactions


possible increase in etoricoxib side effects


increased risk of methotrexate toxicity


increased risk of bleeding


increased risk of lithium toxicity

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention. Symptoms may include nausea, stomach pain, breathing difficulty and even coma.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 60 - 120 mg once a day for the shortest period of time needed.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

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