Traditional NSAIDs block two enzymes – cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) – that produce prostaglandins, which cause pain and inflammation. The original NSAIDs are called salicylates, which includes aspirin. Nonacetylated salicylates don’t contain aspirin and are designed to have fewer side effects. Selective COX-2 inhibitors were designed to be easier on the stomach by only blocking COX-2 enzymes.
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