GENERIC NAME: diclofenac and misoprostol
BRAND NAME: Arthrotec
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Arthrotec is a combination of diclofenac and misoprostol. Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) similar to ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), naproxen (Naprosyn), and others that is used to treat inflammation, pain, and fever. Diclofenac, like other NSAIDs works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are a family of chemicals produced by the cells of the body that promote inflammation, pain, and fever. In addition, they support the function of platelets that are necessary for the clotting of blood, and protect the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid.
Prostaglandins are produced by the enzyme cyclooxygenase (Cox). There actually are two Cox enzymes, Cox-1 and Cox-2. Both enzymes produce prostaglandins that promote inflammation, pain, and fever. However, only Cox-1 produces prostaglandins that support platelets and protect the stomach. Diclofenac blocks both Cox enzymes and reduces prostaglandins throughout the body. As a consequence, ongoing inflammation, pain, and fever are reduced. Since prostaglandins that protect the stomach and support platelets and blood clotting also are reduced, NSAIDs can cause ulcers in the stomach and promote bleeding. Misoprostol is a synthetic (man-made) prostaglandin that stimulates secretion of mucus in the gastrointestinal tract. Mucus protects the lining of the stomach from acid. Misoprostol has been shown to reduce the frequency of ulcers of the stomach caused by NSAIDs. Arthrotec was approved by the FDA in December 1997.
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