OBJECTIVES: There is good evidence that opioids can potentiate analgesic activity of some older non-opioid analgesics (such as paracetamol or ibuprofen) but it is not known whether this also holds true for newer non-opioid analgesics that selectively inhibit cyclooxygenase 2 (coxibs). This study was undertaken to determine the nature of the interaction between codeine and celecoxib or etoricoxib in peritoneal irritation-induced visceral pain in mice. For comparison, interactions of codeine with paracetamol and ibuprofen were also tested using the same method.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A small volume of a weak acetic acid (0.6%) was injected into the peritoneal cavity and the number of writhes (contractions of abdominal muscles) was counted. All drugs were given orally. Their interaction was characterized using isobolographic analysis.
RESULTS: Codeine, etoricoxib, celecoxib, ibuprofen and paracetamol all independently produced dose-dependent suppression of writhing. The isobolographic analysis carried out using equipotent dose ratios showed that the interactions between codeine and etoricoxib or celecoxib were sub-additive or additive, respectively. This was in contrast to combinations of codeine with ibuprofen or paracetamol, which were supra-additive. Interaction indexes γ, determined as a ratio between experimental and theoretical ED50 values of the mixture, were as follows: 2.7 for codeine + etoricoxib, 0.62 for codeine + celecoxib, 0.43 for codeine + ibuprofen and 0.33 for codeine + paracetamol.
CONCLUSIONS: These and other results suggest that opioids do not seem to potentiate analgesic effects of selective COX-2 inhibitors, in contrast to nonselective COX inhibitors or paracetamol.