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I figured it would be worth talking about, since it seems to have achieved some sort of cult status in some circles. They work by inhibiting a compound called cyclooxygenase COX , which is a chemical formed in the chemical chain that results in the sensation of pain.
Since pain and inflammation seem to be a regular risk for horses as they age, or as they compete, these drugs are used a lot such drugs are used a lot in people, too, of course. COX comes in two forms that are important in pharmacology. Cyclooxygenase-1 is a really important substance in the body.
Think about the chemical events that cause pain as a river. Bute and such dam up one of the tributaries — COX-2 medications, such as firocoxcib, dam up a different one.
Either way, less water gets into the river I hope you get the idea. It was hoped that by blocking COX-2 you could end up with fewer gastrointestinal side effects, and still have an effective pain reliever. COX-2 inhibitors made a big splash in the human pain-relieving market a decade of so ago, for much the same reasons as firocoxcib may be used.
Unfortunately, it turns out that while they may have been easier on the gut, they were a bit tough on the heart in some people; they caused strokes, too. Happily, horses and dogs seem not to have cardiovascular side-effects. Yes, it seems to be as effective as COX-1 drugs in relieving pain. The paste formulation of firocoxcib works about as well as the paste formulation of bute NOT better.
So, while firocoxcib is an effective medication, it is NOT a huge step up in relief of pain, when compared to other COX-inhibiting medications. Some individuals may have a better response to one medication than another. For example, on the rare occasion when I get a headache, I find that ibuprofen works better for me than does aspirin. As it turns out, horses that get firocoxcib can suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, too.
Perhaps not as often as horses that receive COX-1 medications, but firocoxcib is apparently not entirely free of gastrointestinal side effects. So, I guess we can lose some sleep over that. Until relatively recently, firocoxcib for horses was only available as a paste. Pastes for horses, as you surely know, are a sometimes convenient way to administer medication to horses. Anyway, the paste was available, but it was relatively expensive. Dogs, with their very large canine teeth, may not entirely like having a paste shoved into their mouths.
They seem to prefer taking pills, particularly when hidden in a bit of cheese, white bread, or such at least according to my experience. Somebody noticed that the pills for dogs contained the same medication as did the paste for horses, but at a substantially lower price.
Ever the thrifty bunch, horse owners started buying the dog pills and giving them either as a single pill, or, in an even more economical fashion, taking the stronger of the two dog pill formulations mg , cutting them into four pieces, and giving the horse one of those pieces. While this practice may have helped spike the sales of canine pills, it did nothing for the sales of equine paste, and the manufacturer was not happy.
To be frank, the practice of giving a dog pill to a horse may not have been entirely legal one could debate that and it made the drug company unhappy, but people did it anyway. Thus, the manufacturer started marketing the same medication that was previously only available as a pill for dogs as a pill for horses, which is where things are now. It works along a different path than do other drugs commonly used for pain relief in horses, but not necessarily a more effective path.
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