Celebrex shouldn't be your first choice for joint pain

This prescription drug works no better than cheaper over-the-counter drugs for most people

Published: July 2014

Q. Should I ask my doctor for Celebrex?

A. In most cases, no—for several reasons. First, the drug, which in generic form is known as celecoxib, doesn’t ease pain from osteoarthritis better than related drugs available without a prescription, including ibuprofen (Advil and generic) and naproxen (Aleve and generic), according to our Best Buy Drugs analysis. And though some research suggests that celecoxib is less likely to cause stomach bleeding, it might be more likely than naproxen to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

In addition, though celecoxib should be available next year as a generic and will eventually cost less than the brand-name original, it can take a year or more for savings to trickle down to consumers. We estimate that a year after it becomes available as a generic, celecoxib will cost about $70 per month. That’s roughly half of what brand-name Celebrex now costs—but about seven times as much as what generic ibuprofen or naproxen costs.

For related information read: Should you still take Celebrex?

Get all the details about Celebrex and Cymbalta going generic.

Because of the risks posed by ibuprofen or naproxen, we suggest that most people with arthritis start with appropriate doses of acetaminophen, which is safer when used properly. That’s especially true for people who have a history of ulcers, bleeding, kidney disease, or any form of cardiovascular disease.

Editor's Note:

This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin). This article also appeared in the September 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

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