salsalate, Amigesic, Salflex, Argesic-SA, Marthritic, Salsitab, Artha-G

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is salsalate, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Salsalate is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used for treating fever, pain, and inflammation in the body. Salsalate is converted in the body to salicylic acid which is its active form and is closely related to aspirin. Other NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen), naproxen (Aleve) and several others. They work by reducing the levels of prostaglandins, chemicals produced by the body that are responsible for pain, fever, and inflammation. Salsalate blocks the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower concentrations of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation, pain and fever are reduced. Salsalate is as strong as aspirin in reducing inflammation but has less effect on blood clotting than aspirin.

What brand names are available for salsalate?

Amigesic, Salflex, Argesic-SA, Marthritic, Salsitab, Artha-G

Is salsalate available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for salsalate?


What are the side effects of salsalate?

Most patients benefit from salsalate and other NSAIDs with few side effects. However, serious side effects can occur and generally tend to be dose-related (are more common at higher doses). Therefore, it is advisable to use the lowest effective dose to minimize side effects. The most common side effects of salsalate involve the gastrointestinal system and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). It can cause ulcerations of the stomach and intestines, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, vomiting, gastritis, and even serious gastrointestinal bleeding and liver toxicity. Sometimes, ulceration and bleeding may occur without any abdominal pain. Black tarry stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing (orthostatic hypotension) may be the only signs of internal bleeding. Patients who develop tinnitus may need to reduce the dose of salsalate. Rash, kidney impairment, vertigo, and lightheadedness also may occur. Fluid retention, blood clots, heart attacks, hypertension (high blood pressure), and heart failure also have been associated with the use of NSAIDs.

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