Managing and alleviating pain is one of the prime considerations in treating animals, and effective treatment of pain is often a complex and difficult task.
One product now on the market should make it easier to control pain in dogs. Deramaxx (deracoxib), Novartis' first pain medication for pets, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration since August, 2002. Although the initial approval for Deramaxx is for postoperative pain in dogs, Novartis is seeking regulatory approval for chronic pain in dogs as well. Deramaxx is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).What Are NSAIDs?
NSAIDs are a classification of drugs that are effective in reducing pain, inflammation and fever. You might be familiar with some popular NSAID drugs that you can buy without a prescription, such as ibuprofen (Advil®), naproxen (Aleve®), and aspirin. There are several more that can be prescribed by a physician, and they all carry the risk of causing stomach ulcers, liver injury and kidney damage in animals as well as people.
To understand the properties of Deramaxx, it is important to understand the mechanism of NSAIDs. These drugs suppress inflammation and pain by inhibiting the body's ability to synthesize hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins, which are made by the body in response to cell injury. The drugs actually inhibit an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX), which is necessary in the formation of prostaglandins. In other words, by inhibiting the COX enzyme, the formation of prostaglandins cannot occur.
COX has two known forms: COX-1 protects the stomach lining and intestine and helps maintain normal function in the kidney; COX-2 is involved in making the prostaglandins important in the process of inflammation and is also important in maintaining the normal function of the kidney. Most NSAIDs currently available inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2.
Deramaxx is unique compared to other NSAIDs in that it only inhibits the COX-2 prostaglandins responsible for pain and inflammation. Currently, the drug is used in the treatment of pain associated with surgery, especially fracture repair and cruciate rupture in dogs. Dogs usually receive their first dose several hours before the surgery to allow time for it to be effective. Then it is continued for up to seven days.
The drug has been thoroughly tested and few side effects have been reported. The most common side effects are anorexia, vomiting and leakage from the surgery site. If the drug is given in very high doses or for a prolonged period of time, kidney damage may occur.
However, while generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, Deramaxx can cause side effects in some animals. It should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug. It should be used with caution in animals that are dehydrated or those with kidney disease, heart disease or liver disease. The manufacturer recommends that Deramaxx not be used in dogs weighing less than four pounds (2 kg) or puppies
under four months of age.
Deramaxx may interact with other medications, so be sure to consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with Deramaxx. Such drugs include aspirin and steroids.
Deramaxx has not been tested in cats and should not be used in this species.
For more information about Deramaxx, call Novartis' toll-free Guarantee Hotline at 1-800-327-9745