Naproxen is an established NSAID (non steroidal anti inflammatory) drug for treating arthritis. But one of its main problems is that it can cause serious gastrointestinal problems, such as bleeding and ulcers.
Misoprostol is routinely given to naproxen patients who are most at risk from developing ulcers while taking an NSAID.
So the clever people at Searle have come up with a new anti arthritis drug called Condrotec, which mixes naproxen and misoprostol all in the same tablet. As the advert says: "Naproxen power with misoprostol protection."
But before the cigars are handed out, it's worth looking to see just how protective misoprostol can be. As regular readers will doubtless guess, the major reaction to misoprostol is. . .gastrointestinal problems. Although it will not cause ulcers, the drug can still bring on problems, such as diarrhoea and abdominal pains. Women patients are particularly at risk, with misoprostol being responsible for a range of gynaecological complaints, such as spotting, cramps and menstrual disorders.
Common reactions experienced by both sexes include nausea, flatulence, headache, dyspepsia, vomiting and constipation.
Turning to naproxen, the other reactions other than ulcers include serious kidney problems, liver abnormalities, fluid retention and oedema the usual list of suspects linked to most every other NSAID.
Other common reactions include constipation, heartburn, headache, dizziness, vertigo, itching, tinnitus, visual disturbances, depression, insomnia, congestive heart failure and myalgia.
Of course, there is the other vexed question of how the two drugs will interact with each other, especially as they are being taken at the same time. What little we do know is that misoprostol does not react with aspirin, but it is early days. Still, perhaps the manufacturer could throw something else into the cocktail if new reactions are discovered.