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European Commission final decision


Etoricoxib is a selective inhibitor of COX-2 (cyclooxygenase 2) indicated in the symptomatic relief of osteoarthritis (OA, 30-60mg once daily (od)), rheumatoid arthritis (RA, 90mg od) and the pain and signs of inflammation associated with acute gouty arthritis (120mg od)

This referral procedure relates to a request for arbitration concerning a type II variation for a new indication to include treatment of ankylosing spondylitis (AS), at a recommended daily dose of 90mg. At the end of the mutual recognition procedure, there was a discrepancy between different European Union (EU) Member States regarding the safety of etoricoxib at the 90mg dose in the new proposed indication. As these concerns were not resolved during the course of the procedure, a notification of an official referral for arbitration under Article 6(12) of Commission Regulation EC No 1084/2003 to the CHMP was made by France on 19 September 2007.

The main unresolved areas of concern identified by France were concerns regarding long term safety of a daily dose of 90mg etoricoxib in the view of possible increased cardiovascular (CV) risk related to the use of the 90mg dose in the ankylosing spondylitis (AS) indication. France considered that a review of the benefit/risk profile of Arcoxia was needed.

The arbitration procedure was discussed by the CHMP at its plenary meeting in September 2007 and a Rapporteur (Dr. Karl Broich) and Co-Rapporteur (Dr. Matthew Thatcher) were appointed. The referral procedure was initiated on 20 September 2007 with the adoption of a CHMP list of questions that were to be addressed by the marketing authorisation holders (MAHs). During the February 2008 plenary meeting Dr. Rafe Survana was appointed Co-Rapporteur, replacing Dr. Matthew Thatcher.

Written explanations were provided by the MAHs on 14 December 2008, 5 May 2008, 12 June 2008 and 20 June 2008.

The CHMP concluded that the data confirmed the known renovascular safety profile of etoricoxib (hypertension, oedema and congestive heart failure). The data further confirmed a similar CV thrombotic risk like diclofenac and some degree of upper gastrointestinal (GI) safety advantage over naproxen and diclofenac (though no particular lower GI safety advantage). There was little direct comparative safety data for individual non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) other than diclofenac and naproxen. It was therefore difficult to determine risks for etoricoxib compared with ibuprofen, ketoprofen or other less-commonly used NSAIDs.

Drug utilisation data showed that some patients with high blood pressure are being initiated on etoricoxib. The CHMP therefore recommended the strengthening of the contraindication in hypertensive patients and alerts prescribers that blood pressure needs to be monitored, especially within 2 weeks of treatment initiation. Healthcare professionals were to be reminded of these measures through a communication letter (Dear Healthcare Professional Letter).

Data from clinical studies showed clinically meaningful treatment effect for the 90mg etoricoxib once daily dose for AS indication; however, some data are available to indicate that lower doses might also show effect. The CHMP therefore recommended that dose finding studies should be explored to conclude if treatment with 60mg once daily would also be adequate for some patients.

Based on the review of the available data, the CHMP considered that the benefits of etoricoxib outweigh the risks in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.

On 26 June 2008, the CHMP, having considered the data provided by the MAHs, recommended the granting of the variation to the marketing authorisations.

The list of product names concerned is given in Annex I. The scientific conclusions are provided in Annex II, the amended product information in Annex III and the conditions of the marketing authorisation in Annex IV.

The final opinion was converted into a decision by the European Commission on 9 September 2008.

Key facts

Approved name
International non-proprietary name (INN) or common name


Reference number
Article 6(12) referrals (prior to January 2010)

This type of referral was triggered for a medicine that had been authorised by mutual recognition or via the decentralised procedure when there was disagreement between Member States on a variation (type II). This referral has been replaced by Article 13 referrals.

European Commission final decision
Opinion date
EC decision date

All documents

Document description

  • Questions and answers (Q&A) - easy-to-understand summary of key issues and Committee conclusions
  • Summary of Opinion - contains the CHMP opinion of the referred medicine(s)
  • List of the medicines affected by the referral (Annex I)
  • Scientific conclusions of the Committee (Annex II)

The following two documents are sometimes available:

  • Changes to the summary of product characteristics, labeling or package leaflet (also known as Annex III) - available when changes havebeen recommended by the Committee
  • Conditions of the marketing authorisation (also known as Annex IV) - available when the Committee recommends measures to be takenfor the marketing authorisation(s) such as safety measures or extra studies

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