Efficacy and Safety of Rofecoxib 12.5 mg Versus Nabumetone 1,000 mg in Patients with Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Trial


  • Research supported by Merck & Co., Inc.

E-mail: gpg2004@columbia.edu; richard_petruschke@merck.com


Objectives: To evaluate the use of starting doses of rofecoxib and nabumetone in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.

Design: A 6-week, randomized, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Setting: One hundred thirteen outpatient sites in the United States.

Participants: A total of 1,042 male and female patients aged 40 and older with OA of the knee (>6 months).

Interventions: Rofecoxib 12.5 mg once a day (n=424), nabumetone 1,000 mg once a day (n=410), or placebo (n=208) for 6 weeks.

Measurements: The primary efficacy endpoint was patient global assessment of response to therapy (PGART) over 6 weeks, which was also specifically evaluated over the first 6 days. The main safety measure was adverse events during the 6 weeks of treatment.

Results: The percentage of patients with a good or excellent response to therapy as assessed using PGART at Week 6 was significantly higher with rofecoxib (55.4%) than nabumetone (47.5%; P=.018) or placebo (26.7%; P<.001 vs rofecoxib or nabumetone). Median time to first report of a good or excellent PGART response was significantly shorter in patients treated with rofecoxib (2 days) than with nabumetone (4 days, P=.002) and placebo (>5 days, P<.001) (nabumetone vs placebo; P=.007). The safety profiles of rofecoxib and nabumetone were generally similar, including gastrointestinal, hypertensive, and renal adverse events.

Conclusion: Rofecoxib 12.5 mg daily demonstrated better efficacy over 6 weeks of treatment and quicker onset of OA efficacy over the first 6 days than nabumetone 1,000 mg daily. Both therapies were generally well tolerated.