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OBJECTIVE: To compare the safety and efficacy of rofecoxib* to naproxen for the treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). METHODS: This was a 12-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, active comparator-controlled, non-inferiority study with a prespecified 52-week open-label active comparator-controlled extension. Children (ages 2-11 yrs) and adolescents (ages 12-17 yrs) received lower-dose (LD)-rofecoxib [0.3 mg/kg/day up to 12.5 mg/day (base study only)]; or higher-dose (HD)-rofecoxib (0.6 mg/kg/day up to 25 mg/day) or naproxen 15 mg/kg/day as oral suspensions. Adolescents received daily rofecoxib (LD) 12.5 (base study only) or (HD) 25 mg, or naproxen 15 mg/kg/day (maximum 1,000 mg/day) as tablets. The primary endpoint was the time-weighted average proportion of patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology Pediatric-30 (ACR Pedi 30) response criteria. A prespecified bound for the 95% confidence interval for the ratio of the percentage of ACR Pedi 30 responders was used to assess non-inferiority of treatment response between groups. Safety was assessed throughout the study. RESULTS: A total of 310 patients ages 2-17 years (181 (3/4) age 11) were randomized to receive LD-rofecoxib (N=109), HD-rofecoxib (N=100), or naproxen (N=101). The ACR Pedi 30 response rates following 12 weeks of treatment were 46.2%, 54.5%, and 55.1%, respectively. The relative rates of response compared to naproxen were 0.81 (95% CI 0.61, 1.07) and 0.98 (95% CI 0.76, 1.26) for LD- and HD-rofecoxib, respectively. Both rofecoxib doses were not inferior to naproxen. Patients (N=227) entering the extension received HD-rofecoxib or naproxen with efficacy maintained during the extension. All treatments were generally well tolerated throughout the study. CONCLUSION: Daily treatment of JRA patients with rofecoxib up to 12.5 or 25 mg was well tolerated, providing sustained clinical effectiveness comparable to naproxen 15 mg/kg. *On September 30, 2004, Merck & Co., Inc. announced the voluntary worldwide withdrawal of rofecoxib from the market.