CHOICE OF NSAID
All NSAIDs, including aspirin, are about equally efficacious with a few exceptions—tolmetin seems not to be effective for gout, and aspirin is less effective than other NSAIDs (eg, indomethacin) for ankylosing spondylitis.
Thus, NSAIDs tend to be differentiated on the basis of toxicity and cost-effectiveness. For example, the GI and renal side effects of ketorolac limit its use. Some surveys suggest that indomethacin and tolmetin are the NSAIDs associated with the greatest toxicity, while salsalate, aspirin, and ibuprofen are least toxic. The selective COX-2 inhibitors were not included in these analyses.
For patients with renal insufficiency, nonacetylated salicylates may be best. Diclofenac and sulindac are associated with more liver function test abnormalities than other NSAIDs. The relatively expensive, selective COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib is probably safest for patients at high risk for GI bleeding but may have a higher risk of cardiovascular toxicity. Celecoxib or a nonselective NSAID plus omeprazole or misoprostol may be appropriate in patients at high-est risk for GI bleeding; in this subpopulation of patients, they are cost-effective despite their high acquisition costs.
The choice of an NSAID thus requires a balance of efficacy, cost-effectiveness, safety, and numerous personal factors (eg, other drugs also being used, concurrent illness, compliance, medical insurance coverage), so that there is no best NSAID for all patients. There may, however, be one or two best NSAIDs for a specific person.