- A class of drugs that act in certain but not all ways like aspirin. Also known as Cox-2 inhibitors, these drugs selectively block a specific enzyme called Cox-2. Inhibiting this enzyme impedes the production of the chemical messengers that cause the pain and swelling of arthritis inflammation. The common antiinflammatory drugs (not just aspirin but also, for examples, ibuprofen (ADVIL) and naproxen) all act by blocking the action of two enzymes — both cyclooxygenase-1 (Cox-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2). Cox-1: This enzyme produces certain chemical messengers (called prostaglandins) that ensure the natural mucus lining protecting the stomach. Because the common antiinflammatory drugs like aspirin block Cox-1, they can reduce the natural stomach protective mucus lining and cause stomach upset, intestinal bleeding, and even ulcers. Cox-2: This enzyme produces different chemical messenger molecules (actually, different types of prostaglandins) that are responsible for inflammation. When Cox-2 is blocked, inflammation is reduced. There is no known effect of Cox-2 on the intestinal tract. The Cox-2 inhibitors represent a new class of drugs that do not affect Cox-1 but do selectively block Cox-2. This selective action provides the benefits of reducing inflammation without irritating the stomach. It is widely expected (and hoped) that superaspirin will of super value to people with arthritis.
Medical dictionary. 2011.