What is/are Diclofenac Sodium?
Diclofenac (cf. INN with trade names) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) taken to reduce inflammation and as an analgesic reducing pain in certain conditions, supplied as or contained in medications under a variety of trade names. The name derives from its chemical name: 2-(2,6-dichloranilino) phenylacetic acid.
In the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, and the United States, it may be supplied as either the sodium or potassium salt, in China most often as the sodium salt, while in some other countries only as the potassium salt. Diclofenac is available as a generic drug in a number of formulations, including diclofenac diethylamine applied topically. Over-the-counter (OTC) use is approved in some countries for minor aches and pains and fever associated with common infections.
Diclofenac is used to treat pain, inflammatory disorders, and dysmenorrhea.
Voltaren (diclofenac) 50 mg enteric coated tablets Inflammatory disorders may include musculoskeletal complaints, especially arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, osteoarthritis, dental pain, TMJ pain, spondylarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, gout attacks, and pain management in cases of kidney stones and gallstones. An additional indication is the treatment of acute migraines. Diclofenac is used commonly to treat mild to moderate postoperative or post-traumatic pain, in particular when inflammation is also present, and is effective against menstrual pain and endometriosis.
As long-term use of diclofenac and similar NSAIDs predisposes for peptic ulcer, many patients at risk for this complication are prescribed a combination (Arthrotec) of diclofenac and misoprostol, a synthetic prostaglandin (PGE1) analogue, to protect the gastric mucosa.
An external, gel-based formulation containing 3% of diclofenac (Solaraze) is available for the treatment of facial actinic keratosis caused by overexposure to sunlight. Some countries have also approved the external use of diclofenac 1% gel to treat musculoskeletal conditions.
In many countries,[where?] eye drops are sold to treat acute and chronic nonbacterial inflammations of the anterior part of the eyes (e.g., postoperative states).
Diclofenac is often used to treat chronic pain associated with cancer, in particular if inflammation is also present (Step I of the World Health Organization (WHO) scheme for treatment of chronic pain). Good results (sometimes better than those with opioids) have been seen in the pain associated with bony metastases.
Diclofenac can be combined with opioids if needed. Combaren, a fixed combination of diclofenac and codeine (50 mg each), is available for cancer treatment in Europe. Combinations with psychoactive drugs such as chlorprothixene and/or amitriptyline have also been investigated and found useful in a number of cancer patients.
Fever due to malignant lymphogranulomatosis (Hodgkin's lymphoma) often responds to diclofenac. Treatment can be terminated as soon as the usual treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy causes remission of fever.
Sintofarm (diclofenac) for suppository administration Diclofenac has been found to increase the blood pressure in patients with Shy-Drager syndrome and diabetes mellitus. Currently, this use is highly investigative and cannot be recommended as routine treatment.
Diclofenac has been found effective against all strains of multidrug-resistant E. coli, with a MIC of 25 micrograms/ml. Therefore, it may have the capacity to treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections caused by E. coli. It has also shown effectiveness in treating Salmonella infections in mice, and is under investigation for the treatment of tuberculosis. Diclofenac is an antiuricosuric. This drug is dangerous to take within five days of having an EGD or a colonoscopy.
Diclofenac is among the better-tolerated NSAIDs. Though 20% of patients on long-term treatment experience side effects, only 2% have to discontinue the drug, mostly due to gastrointestinal complaints.
Following the identification of increased risks of heart attacks with the selective COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib in 2004, attention has focused on all the other members of the NSAIDs group, including diclofenac. Research results are mixed, with a meta-analysis of papers and reports up to April 2006 suggesting a relative increased rate of heart disease of 1.63 compared to nonusers. Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation said, "However, the increased risk is small, and many patients with chronic debilitating pain may well feel that this small risk is worth taking to relieve their symptoms". Only aspirin was found not to increase the risk of heart disease; however, this is known to have a higher rate of gastric ulceration than diclofenac.
A subsequent large study of 74,838 users of NSAIDs or coxibs found no additional cardiovascular risk from diclofenac use. A very large study of 1,028,437 Danish users of various NSAIDs or coxibs found the "Use of the nonselective NSAID diclofenac and the selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor rofecoxib was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death (odds ratio, 1.91; 95% confidence interval, 1.62 to 2.42; and odds ratio, 1.66; 95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 2.59, respectively), with a dose-dependent increase in risk." In Britain the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in June 2013 that the drug should not be used by people with serious underlying heart conditions—people who had suffered heart failure, heart disease or a stroke were advised to stop using it completely.
Diclofenac has similar COX-2 selectivity to celecoxib. A review by FDA Medical Officer David Graham concluded diclofenac does increase the risk of myocardial infarction.
Gastrointestinal complaints are most often noted. The development of ulceration and/or bleeding requires immediate termination of treatment with diclofenac. Most patients receive a gastro-protective drug as prophylaxis during long-term treatment (misoprostol, ranitidine 150 mg at bedtime or omeprazole 20 mg at bedtime).
Liver damage occurs infrequently, and is usually reversible. Hepatitis may occur rarely without any warning symptoms and may be fatal. Patients with osteoarthritis more often develop symptomatic liver disease than patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Liver function should be monitored regularly during long-term treatment. If used for the short-term treatment of pain or fever, diclofenac has not been found more hepatotoxic than other NSAIDs.
As of December 2009, Endo, Novartis, and the US FDA notified healthcare professionals to add new warnings and precautions about the potential for elevation in liver function tests during treatment with all products containing diclofenac sodium.
Cases of drug-induced hepatotoxicity have been reported in the first month, but can occur at any time during treatment with diclofenac. Postmarketing surveillance has reported cases of severe hepatic reactions, including liver necrosis, jaundice, fulminant hepatitis with and without jaundice, and liver failure. Some of these reported cases resulted in fatalities or liver transplantation.
Physicians should measure transaminases periodically in patients receiving long-term therapy with diclofenac. Based on clinical trial data and postmarketing experiences, transaminases should be monitored within 4 to 8 wk after initiating treatment with diclofenac.
Studies in Pakistan showed diclofenac caused acute kidney failure in vultures when they ate the carcasses of animals that had recently been treated with it. Drug-sensitive species and individual humans are initially assumed to lack genes expressing specific drug detoxification enzymes.
NSAIDs "are associated with adverse renal [kidney] effects caused by the reduction in synthesis of renal prostaglandins" in sensitive persons or animal species, and potentially during long-term use in nonsensitive persons if resistance to side effects decreases with age. However, this side effect cannot be avoided merely by using a COX-2 selective inhibitor because, "Both isoforms of COX, COX-1 and COX-2, are expressed in the kidney... Consequently, the same precautions regarding renal risk that are followed for nonselective NSAIDs should be used when selective COX-2 inhibitors are administered."
Mental health side effects have been reported. These symptoms are rare, but exist in significant enough numbers to include as potential side effects. These include depression, anxiety, irritability, nightmares, and psychotic reactions.
Bone marrow depression is noted infrequently (leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombopenia with/without purpura, aplastic anemia). These conditions may be life-threatening and/or irreversible, if detected too late. All patients should be monitored closely. Diclofenac is a weak and reversible inhibitor of thrombocytic aggregation needed for normal coagulation.
- It induces warm antibody hemolytic anemia by inducing antibodies to Rh antigens; ibuprofen also does this.
- Diclofenac may disrupt the normal menstrual cycle.
Mechanism of action
The exact mechanism of action is not entirely known, but the primary mechanism responsible for its anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, and analgesic action is thought to be inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis by inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX). It also appears to exhibit bacteriostatic activity by inhibiting bacterial DNA synthesis.
Inhibition of COX also decreases prostaglandins in the epithelium of the stomach, making it more sensitive to corrosion by gastric acid. This is also the main side effect of diclofenac. Diclofenac has a low to moderate preference to block the COX2-isoenzyme (approximately 10-fold) and is said to have, therefore, a somewhat lower incidence of gastrointestinal complaints than noted with indomethacin and aspirin.
The action of one single dose is much longer (6 to 8 hr) than the very short half-life of the drug indicates. This could be partly because it persists for over 11 hours in synovial fluids.
Diclofenac may also be a unique member of the NSAIDs. Some evidence indicates it inhibits the lipoxygenase pathways, thus reducing formation of the leukotrienes (also pro-inflammatory autacoids). It also may inhibit phospholipase A2 as part of its mechanism of action. These additional actions may explain its high potency - it is the most potent NSAID on a broad basis.
Marked differences exist among NSAIDs in their selective inhibition of the two subtypes of cyclooxygenase, COX-1 and COX-2. Much pharmaceutical drug design has attempted to focus on selective COX-2 inhibition as a way to minimize the gastrointestinal side effects of NSAIDs such as aspirin. In practice, use of some COX-2 inhibitors with their adverse effects has led to massive numbers of patient family lawsuits alleging wrongful death by heart attack, yet other significantly COX-selective NSAIDs, such as diclofenac, have been well tolerated by most of the population.
Besides the well-known and often-cited COX-inhibition, a number of other molecular targets of diclofenac possibly contributing to its pain-relieving actions have recently been identified. These include:
- Blockage of voltage-dependent sodium channels (after activation of the channel, diclofenac inhibits its reactivation also known as phase inhibition)
- Blockage of acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs)
- Positive allosteric modulation of KCNQ- and BK-potassium channels (diclofenac opens these channels, leading to hyperpolarization of the cell membrane)
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