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Open Access Research article

Rofecoxib for dysmenorrhoea: meta-analysis using individual patient data

Jayne E Edwards, R Andrew Moore* and Henry J McQuay

Author Affiliations

Pain Research Unit & Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics University of Oxford The Churchill Headington Oxford OX3 7LJ UK

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BMC Women's Health 2004, 4:5  doi:10.1186/1472-6874-4-5

Published: 20 July 2004



Individual patient meta-analysis to determine the analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of single-dose rofecoxib in primary dysmenorrhoea.


Individual patient information was available from three randomised, double blind, placebo and active controlled trials of rofecoxib. Data were combined through meta-analysis. Number-needed-to-treat (NNT) for at least 50% pain relief and the proportion of patients who had taken rescue medication over 12 hours were calculated. Information was collected on adverse effects.


For single-dose rofecoxib 50 mg compared with placebo, the NNTs (with 95% CI) for at least 50% pain relief were 3.2 (2.4 to 4.5) at six, 3.1 (2.4 to 9.0) at eight, and 3.7 (2.8 to 5.6) at 12 hours. For naproxen sodium 550 mg they were 3.1 (2.4 to 4.4) at six, 3.0 (2.3 to 4.2) at eight, and 3.8 (2.7 to 6.1) at 12 hours. The proportion of patients who needed rescue medication within 12 hours was 27% with rofecoxib 50 mg, 29% with naproxen sodium 550 mg, and 50% with placebo. In the single-dose trial, the proportion of patients reporting any adverse effect was 8% (4/49) with rofecoxib 50 mg, 12% (6/49) with ibuprofen 400 mg, and 6% (3/49) with placebo. In the other two multiple dose trials, the proportion of patients reporting any adverse effect was 23% (42/179) with rofecoxib 50 mg, 24% (45/181) with naproxen sodium 550 mg, and 18% (33/178) with placebo.


Single dose rofecoxib 50 mg provided similar pain relief to naproxen sodium 550 mg over 12 hours. The duration of analgesia with rofecoxib 50 mg was similar to that of naproxen sodium 550 mg. Adverse effects were uncommon suggesting safety in short-term use of rofecoxib and naproxen sodium. Future research should include restriction on daily life and absence from work or school as outcomes.