CELEBREX (celecoxib) Action And Clinical Pharmacology

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Mechanism of Action

CELEBREX (celecoxib) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug that exhibits anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anti-pyretic activities in animals. The mechanism of action of CELEBREX is believed to be related to inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). COX-2 is expressed at high levels in inflamed tissues where it is induced by mediators of inflammation. COX-2 also plays physiological roles in a limited number of tissues, including those of the female reproductive tract, the kidney and possibly the vascular endothelium. COX-2 has the same catalytic activity as COX-1. COX-1 is expressed constitutively in most tissues including the gastrointestinal tract, kidney, lungs, brain, and platelets. The prostaglandins produced by COX-1 play key roles in the maintenance of physiological functions such as platelet aggregation and are among the factors that maintain the GI mucosal barrier. At therapeutic concentrations (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION) celecoxib inhibits COX-2 and does not inhibit COX-1.


The pharmacokinetics of celecoxib have been evaluated in approximately 1500 individuals. In addition to healthy, young and elderly volunteers (male and female), pharmacokinetic measurements have been done in patients and also in special populations including individuals with hepatic or renal impairment.

Absorption: Peak plasma levels of celecoxib occur approximately 3 hours after an oral dose. Both peak plasma levels (Cmax) and area under the curve (AUC) are roughly dose proportional across the clinical dose range of 100-200 mg studied. Under fasting conditions, at higher doses, there is a less than proportional increase in Cmax and AUC which is thought to be due to the low solubility of the drug in aqueous media. Because of the low solubility, absolute bioavailability studies have not been conducted. With multiple dosing, steady state conditions are reached on or before Day 5.

The pharmacokinetic parameters of celecoxib in a group of healthy subjects are shown in Table 3.

Table 3 Summary of Single Dose (200 mg) Disposition Kinetics of Celecoxib in Healthy Subjects1

Mean (%CV) Pharmacokinetic (PK) Parameter Values

(95% Confidence Interval)

Cmax,  ng/mL

Tmax,  hr

Effective t1/2,  hr

Vss/F,  L

CL/F,  L/hr

705 (38)


2.8 (37)


11.2 (31)


429 (34)


27.7 (28)


1Subjects under fasting conditions (n=36, 19-52 yrs.)

Food Effects: When CELEBREX capsules were taken with a high fat meal, peak plasma levels were delayed for about 1 to 2 hours with an increase in total absorption (AUC) of 10% to 20%. Co-administration of CELEBREX with an aluminum- and magnesium-containing antacid resulted in a reduction in plasma celecoxib concentrations with a decrease of 37% in Cmax and 10% in AUC. CELEBREX capsules can be administered without regard to the timing of meals.

Distribution: In healthy subjects, celecoxib is highly protein bound (~97%) within the clinical dose range. In vitro studies indicate that celecoxib binds primarily to albumin and, to a lesser extent, α1-acid glycoprotein. The apparent volume of distribution at steady state (Vss/F) is approximately 400 L, suggesting extensive distribution into the tissues. Celecoxib is not preferentially bound to red blood cells.

Metabolism: Celecoxib metabolism is primarily mediated via cytochrome P450 2C9. Three metabolites, a primary alcohol, the corresponding carboxylic acid and its glucuronide conjugate, have been identified in human plasma. These metabolites are inactive as COX-1 or COX-2 inhibitors. Cytochrome P450 2C9 activity is reduced in individuals with genetic polymorphisms that lead to reduced enzyme activity, such as those homozygous for the CYP2C9*3 polymorphism. Patients who are known or suspected to be P450 2C9 poor metabolizers based on a previous history should be administered celecoxib with caution as they may have abnormally high plasma levels due to reduced metabolic clearance. The maximum recommended dose in CYP2C9 poor metabolizers is 100 mg daily (see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS - Special Populations - CYP2C9 Poor Metabolizers and DRUG INTERACTIONS).

In a pharmacokinetic study of celecoxib 200 mg administered once daily in healthy volunteers, genotyped as either CYP2C9*1/*1, CYP2C9*1/*3, or CYP2C9*3/*3, the median Cmax and AUC 0-24 of celecoxib on Day 7 were approximately 4-fold and 7-fold, respectively, in subjects genotyped as CYP2C9*3/*3 compared to other genotypes. In three separate single dose studies, involving a total of 5 subjects genotyped as CYP2C9*3/*3, single-dose AUC 0-24 increased by approximately 3-fold compared to normal metabolizers. It is estimated that the frequency of the homozygous *3/*3 genotype is 0.3 – 1.0% among different ethnic groups.

Excretion: Celecoxib is eliminated predominantly by hepatic metabolism with little (<3%) unchanged drug recovered in the urine and feces. Following a single oral dose of radiolabelled drug, approximately 57% of the dose was excreted in the feces and 27% was excreted into the urine. The primary metabolite in both urine and feces was the carboxylic acid metabolite (73% of dose) with low amounts of the glucuronide also appearing in the urine. It appears that the low solubility of the drug prolongs the absorption process making terminal half-life (t1/2) determinations more variable. The effective half-life is approximately 11 hours under fasted conditions. The apparent plasma clearance (CL/F) is about 500 mL/min.

Special Populations and Conditions

Geriatrics: At steady state, elderly subjects (over 65 years old) had a 40% higher Cmax and a 50% higher AUC compared to the young subjects. In elderly females, celecoxib Cmax and AUC are higher than those for elderly males, but these increases are predominantly due to lower body weight in elderly females. Dose adjustment in the elderly is not generally necessary. However, for elderly patients of less than 50 kg in body weight, initiate therapy at the lowest recommended dose, and as with all other NSAIDs, exercise caution in the use of higher doses.

Race: Meta-analysis of pharmacokinetic studies has suggested an approximately 40% higher AUC of celecoxib in black patients compared to Caucasians. The cause and clinical significance of this finding is unknown.

Hepatic Insufficiency: A pharmacokinetic study in subjects with mild (Child-Pugh 5-6) and moderate (Child-Pugh 7-9) hepatic impairment has shown that steady-state celecoxib AUC is increased about 40% and 180%, respectively, above that seen in healthy control subjects. Therefore, CELEBREX capsules should be introduced at a reduced dose in patients with moderate hepatic impairment. Patients with severe hepatic impairment have not been studied. The use of CELEBREX in patients with severe hepatic impairment is not recommended (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).

Renal Insufficiency: In a cross-study comparison, celecoxib AUC was approximately 40% lower in patients with chronic renal insufficiency (GFR 35-60 mL/min) than that seen in subjects with normal renal function. No significant relationship was found between GFR and celecoxib clearance. Patients with severe renal insufficiency have not been studied (see CONTRAINDICATIONS).