Celebrex (celecoxib) and naproxen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) used to treat signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. They are primarily used to relieve pain and inflammation in the joints, although they can also be used to treat acute pain and discomfort caused by menstrual cramps. These medications may be recommended in addition to non-drug therapies, such as light stretching and exercise.
Celebrex and naproxen decrease the production of prostaglandins (chemical substances responsible for pain and inflammation in the body) by blocking cyclooxygenase, or COX, enzymes. While both drugs work in similar ways, they have some differences in available formulations, dosing, and potential side effects.
What are the main differences between Celebrex and naproxen?
Celebrex is the brand name for celecoxib, and it is only available with a prescription. Celebrex comes as an oral capsule with a strength of 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, or 400 mg. A healthcare provider will typically recommend that Celebrex be taken once or twice daily as needed, depending on the condition being treated.
Naproxen is a generic drug that is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medicine. OTC brand names include Aleve while prescription brand names include Anaprox and Naprosyn. Naproxen is available as a base form and a salt form. An Aleve tablet contains 220 mg of naproxen sodium, and it is normally taken two to three times per day as needed. Prescription versions contain higher strengths of naproxen than the OTC formulation, and they are usually taken twice daily for pain.
Another major difference between celecoxib and naproxen is that celecoxib is a cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor whereas naproxen is a non-selective COX inhibitor. COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes are responsible for the production of prostaglandins in the body. However, COX-1 enzymes also play a protective role in maintaining the stomach lining and regulating blood clotting. Therefore, blocking the COX-1 enzyme may increase the risk of certain gastrointestinal side effects, such as bleeding and ulcers. Studies have shown that celecoxib carries a lower risk of stomach ulcers than naproxen.
|Main differences between Celebrex and naproxen|
|Drug class||Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)||Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID)|
|Brand/generic status||Brand and generic version available||Brand and generic version available|
|What is the generic name?
What is the brand name?
|Generic name: Celecoxib
Brand name: Celebrex
|Generic name: Naproxen
Brand name: Aleve, Naprosyn, EC-Naprosyn, Anaprox DS
|What form(s) does the drug come in?||Oral capsule||Oral tablet
|What is the standard dosage?||Adults: 200 mg once daily or 100 mg twice daily
Children over 2 years old: 50 mg twice daily in children weighing 10 to 25 kg, or 100 mg twice daily in children weighing more than 25 kg
|Adults OTC: 220 mg every 8 to 12 hours
Adults prescription strength: 250 to 500 mg twice daily
Children over 2 years old: 10 mg/kg in 2 divided doses
|How long is the typical treatment?||Short-term or long-term use depending on your doctor’s instruction||Short-term or long-term use depending on your doctor’s instruction|
|Who typically uses the medication?||Adults and children over 2 years old||Adults and children over 2 years old|
Conditions treated by Celebrex and naproxen
Celebrex and naproxen are both approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Both medications are also approved to treat menstrual cramps, or primary dysmenorrhea, and acute pain.
Certain forms of naproxen, such as Naprosyn and Anaprox DS, are also approved to relieve signs and symptoms of tendonitis, bursitis, and gout. Celebrex is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat these medical conditions, although it is mainly prescribed to treat signs and symptoms associated with arthritis.
|Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis||Yes||Yes|
Is Celebrex or naproxen more effective?
Clinical trials have shown that celecoxib is similarly effective to naproxen for pain relief in those with osteoarthritis. In a double-blind trial that included 13,274 osteoarthritis patients in over 35 countries, celecoxib was found to be just as good as naproxen and diclofenac for treating pain and inflammation. However, celecoxib was found to have a lower risk of gastrointestinal adverse events, such as stomach ulcers and bleeding.
A similar study found that 200 mg of celecoxib once daily is as effective as 500 mg of naproxen twice daily for arthritis pain and inflammation. Fewer people experienced serious gastrointestinal side effects with celecoxib versus naproxen.
Celebrex and naproxen are both effective NSAIDs for pain and inflammation. The most effective NSAID will be the one that works for your specific situation, and its use may depend on certain factors, such as the condition being treated. Consult a healthcare provider for medical advice on the best NSAID for you.
Coverage and cost comparison of Celebrex vs. naproxen
Celebrex may not be covered by some Medicare and insurance plans. The generic version, celecoxib, may be covered instead. The cash price can vary, although the price can be more than $350 for a 30-day supply. A SingleCare Celebrex discount coupon may help reduce the cost.
Naproxen is available over-the-counter and with a prescription, and it is covered by most Medicare and insurance plans. The cash price may be around $40, depending on the quantity and strength of the medicine purchased. Prescription-strength naproxen can be purchased at an affordable price with a SingleCare naproxen discount coupon.
|Typically covered by insurance?||Yes||Yes|
|Typically covered by Medicare Part D?||Yes||Yes|
|Quantity||30 capsules (200 mg)||20 tablets (500 mg)|
|Typical Medicare copay||$0–$22||$0–$20|
Common side effects of Celebrex vs. naproxen
The most common side effects of Celebrex are stomach pain, indigestion, diarrhea, gas, swelling in the arms or legs (edema), and dizziness. Other common side effects include sore throat and other cold symptoms, as well as upper respiratory tract infections.
The most common side effects of naproxen are indigestion, stomach pain, nausea, headache, and rash. Other common side effects may include rash and edema.
Serious side effects of NSAIDs include an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attack. NSAIDs may also cause an increased risk of gastrointestinal adverse events, such as stomach bleeding and intestinal ulcers. Consult a healthcare provider for other possible side effects.
|Upper respiratory tract infection||Yes||8.1%||No||–|
This may not be a complete list of adverse effects that can occur. Please refer to your doctor or healthcare provider to learn more.
Source: DailyMed (Celebrex), DailyMed (Naproxen)
Drug interactions of Celebrex vs. naproxen
As NSAIDs, Celebrex and naproxen can interact with many of the same drugs. NSAIDs should be avoided or monitored when taken with blood thinners, such as Coumadin (warfarin) and aspirin. Low-dose aspirin, however, may be taken with NSAIDs in some cases. Combining NSAIDs with blood thinners may increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. Certain antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs and SNRIs, may also increase the risk of bleeding when taken with NSAIDs.
NSAIDs may decrease the effects of blood pressure medications, such as ACE inhibitors, ARBs, and beta-blockers. Blood pressure should be monitored in patients taking blood pressure medications and NSAIDs.
NSAIDs may decrease the effects of diuretics, such as Lasix (furosemide) and Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide). When taken together, NSAIDs and diuretics may also increase the risk of worsened kidney function.
NSAIDs may increase the risk of toxicity with Lithobid (lithium) or Rheumatrex (methotrexate). Those taking a combination of NSAIDs and lithium or methotrexate should be monitored for signs and symptoms of lithium or methotrexate toxicity.
It is not recommended to combine NSAIDs with other NSAIDs or salicylate medications due to an increased risk of gastrointestinal side effects.
|Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)||Yes||Yes|
|Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)||Yes||Yes|
|Lopressor (metoprolol tartrate)
|Lithobid (lithium)||Antimanic agents||Yes||Yes|
*This may not be a complete list of all possible drug interactions. Consult a doctor with all medications you may be taking.
Warnings of Celebrex and naproxen
Both Celebrex and naproxen carry black box warnings for cardiovascular risks. NSAIDs may cause an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. Those with a history of heart disease may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular events while taking an NSAID.
Celebrex and naproxen also have a black box warning for gastrointestinal risks. NSAIDs may carry an increased risk of severe gastrointestinal events, such as stomach ulcers and bleeding. Other risk factors for gastrointestinal side effects with NSAIDs include older age, a history of stomach ulcers, and the use of certain medications in combination with NSAIDs.
Patients with kidney or liver impairment should be monitored while using NSAIDs. There may be an increased risk of liver toxicity while using NSAIDs. Those with advanced kidney disease should avoid NSAIDs altogether.
The use of NSAIDs should be monitored or avoided in those with heart failure. NSAIDs may cause an increased risk of worsening heart failure and edema, or swelling in the limbs.
NSAIDs may increase the risk of worsened hypertension, or high blood pressure. Those with high blood pressure may need to be monitored while using NSAIDs.
Allergic reactions are possible while using NSAIDs. Seek immediate medical attention at any sign of an allergic reaction, such as severe rash, swelling of the face or throat, or trouble breathing.
Consult a healthcare provider for other possible warnings and precautions.
Frequently asked questions about Celebrex vs. naproxen
What is Celebrex?
Celebrex is the brand name for celecoxib. It is an NSAID that is further subclassified as a COX-2 inhibitor NSAID. It is normally prescribed to be taken as an oral capsule once or twice daily for pain relief from arthritis. Celebrex is only available with a prescription.
What is naproxen?
Naproxen is a generic NSAID that is known under different brand names, such as Aleve, Naprosyn, and Anaprox, and it is considered a non-selective COX inhibitor. It is generally prescribed as an oral capsule, tablet, or liquid suspension for arthritis taken two to three times daily. Naproxen is also available without a prescription.
Are Celebrex and naproxen the same?
Celebrex and naproxen are both NSAIDs, but they are not the same. Celebrex is only available with a prescription, while naproxen comes in both prescription and over-the-counter dosage forms. Celebrex is only available as an oral capsule while naproxen is available as an oral capsule, tablet, delayed-release tablet, and liquid suspension.
Is Celebrex or naproxen better?
Celebrex and naproxen are similarly effective for treating pain from arthritis and menstrual cramps. Celebrex may carry a lower risk of causing serious gastrointestinal side effects than naproxen. However, both medications should still be used with caution in those with a history of stomach ulcers. The best NSAID should be determined in collaboration with a healthcare provider who can assess your overall condition.
Can I use Celebrex or naproxen while pregnant?
NSAIDs are not recommended to be taken in pregnancy at 20 weeks or later. NSAIDs may cause kidney problems in an unborn baby. These medications may also pass through breast milk in small amounts, although they are unlikely to cause harm during breastfeeding. Consult a healthcare provider before using an NSAID while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Can I use Celebrex or naproxen with alcohol?
Drinking alcohol in moderation is unlikely to be harmful while taking NSAIDs. However, excessive alcohol consumption can irritate the gastrointestinal lining. Combining NSAIDs with alcohol may lead to an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach ulcers.