Diclofenac Sodium 1.5% (Page 4 of 5)


Diclofenac Sodium Topical Solution USP, 1.5% w/w is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, available as a clear, colorless to faintly pink orange solution for topical application.

Diclofenac Sodium Topical Solution USP contains 1.5% w/w diclofenac sodium, a benzeneacetic acid derivative that is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), designated chemically as 2-[(2,6-dichlorophenyl)amino]-benzeneacetic acid, monosodium salt. It is a white to off-white crystalline powder, hygroscopic that is freely soluble in methanol, soluble in ethanol (96 %), sparingly soluble in water, practically insoluble in chloroform and in ether. The molecular weight is 318.14. Its molecular formula is C 14 H 10 Cl 2 NNaO 2 and it has the following structural formula:


Each 1 mL of solution contains 16.05 mg of diclofenac sodium.

The inactive ingredients in diclofenac sodium topical solution USP include: alcohol, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, 45.5% w/w), glycerin, propylene glycol and purified water.


12.1 Mechanism of Action

Diclofenac has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties.

The mechanism of action of diclofenac sodium, like that of other NSAIDs, is not completely understood but involves inhibition of cyclooxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2)

Diclofenac is a potent inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis in vitro. Diclofenac concentrations reached during therapy have produced in vivo effects. Prostaglandins sensitize afferent nerves and potentiate the action of bradykinin in inducing pain in animal models. Prostaglandins are mediators of inflammation. Because diclofenac is an inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, its mode of action may be due to a decrease of prostaglandins in peripheral tissues.

12.3 Pharmacokinetics

After topical administration to healthy human volunteers of single and multiple maximum doses of diclofenac sodium topical solution, 40 drops (approximately 1.2 mL) to each knee (80 drops total dose), the following diclofenac pharmacokinetic parameters were obtained: (see Table 2).

Table 2: Single-Dose (80 drops) and Multiple Dose (80 drops four times daily for 7 days) Diclofenac Sodium Topical Solution, 1.5% w/w Pharmacokinetic Parameters

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1 Apparent total body clearance


Diclofenac systemic exposure from diclofenac sodium topical solution application (4 times daily for 1 week) was approximately 1/3 of the diclofenac systemic exposure from the Solaraze (diclofenac topical gel) application (twice daily for 4 weeks).


Diclofenac is more than 99% bound to human serum proteins, primarily to albumin.

Diclofenac diffuses into and out of the synovial fluid. Diffusion into the joint occurs when plasma levels are higher than those in the synovial fluid, after which the process reverses and synovial fluid levels are higher than plasma levels. It is not known whether diffusion into the joint plays a role in the effectiveness of diclofenac.



Five diclofenac metabolites have been identified in human plasma and urine. The metabolites include 4′-hydroxy-, 5-hydroxy-, 3′-hydroxy-, 4′,5-dihydroxy- and 3′-hydroxy-4′-methoxy diclofenac. The major diclofenac metabolite, 4′-hydroxy-diclofenac, has very weak pharmacologic activity. The formation of 4′-hydroxy diclofenac is primarily mediated by CPY2C9. Both diclofenac and its oxidative metabolites undergo glucuronidation or sulfation followed by biliary excretion. Acylglucuronidation mediated by UGT2B7 and oxidation mediated by CPY2C8 may also play a role in diclofenac metabolism. CYP3A4 is responsible for the formation of minor metabolites, 5-hydroxy and 3′-hydroxy-diclofenac.


Diclofenac is eliminated through metabolism and subsequent urinary and biliary excretion of the glucuronide and the sulfate conjugates of the metabolites.

Little or no free unchanged diclofenac is excreted in the urine.

Specific Populations


The pharmacokinetics of diclofenac sodium topical solution has not been investigated in pediatric patients.


Pharmacokinetic differences due to race have not been studied.

Drug Interaction Studies


When NSAIDs were administered with aspirin, the protein binding of NSAIDs were reduced, although the clearance of free NSAID was not altered. The clinical significance of this interaction is not known. See Table 1 for clinically significant drug interactions of NSAIDs with aspirin [see DRUG INTERACTIONS (7)].


13.1 Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility


Carcinogenicity studies in mice and rats administered diclofenac sodium topical solution as a dietary constituent for 2 years resulted in no significant increases in tumor incidence at doses up to 2 mg/kg/day corresponding to approximately 0.35- and 0.7-fold (mouse and rat, respectively) of the maximum recommended human topical dose (MRHD) of diclofenac sodium topical solution (based on apparent bioavailability and body surface area comparison).

In a dermal carcinogenicity study conducted in albino mice, daily topical applications of diclofenac sodium for two years at concentrations up to 0.035% diclofenac sodium (a 43-fold lower diclofenac sodium concentration than present in diclofenac sodium topical solution) did not increase neoplasm incidence.

In a photococarcinogenicity study conducted in hairless mice, topical application of diclofenac sodium at doses up to 0.035% diclofenac sodium (a 43-fold lower diclofenac sodium concentration than present in diclofenac sodium topical solution) resulted in an earlier median time of onset of tumors.


Diclofenac was not mutagenic or clastogenic in a battery of genotoxicity tests that included the bacterial reverse mutation assay, in vitro mouse lymphoma point mutation assay, chromosomal aberration studies in Chinese hamster ovarian cells in vitro , and in vivo rat chromosomal aberration assay of bone marrow cells.

Impairment of Fertility

Fertility studies have not been conducted with diclofenac sodium topical solution. Diclofenac sodium administered to male and female rats at doses up to 4 mg/kg/day (1.4-fold of the MRHD of diclofenac sodium topical solution based on apparent bioavailability and body surface area comparison) did not affect fertility. Studies have not been conducted to determine the safety of DMSO on fertility.

13.2 Animal Toxicology and/or Pharmacology

Ocular Effects

No adverse effects were observed using indirect ophthalmoscopy after multiple-daily dermal application to rats for 26 weeks and minipigs for 52 weeks of DMSO at twice the concentration found in diclofenac sodium topical solution. Published studies of dermal or oral administration of DMSO to rabbits, dogs and pigs described refractive changes of lens curvature and cortical fibers indicative of myopic changes and/or incidences of lens opacity or discoloration when evaluated using slit-lamp biomicroscopy examination, although no ocular abnormalities were observed in rhesus monkeys during daily oral or dermal treatment with DMSO for 9 to 18 months.


14.1 Studies in Osteoarthritis of the Knee

The use of diclofenac sodium topical solution for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee was evaluated in two double-blind controlled trials conducted in the U.S. and Canada, involving patients treated with diclofenac sodium topical solution at a dose of 40 drops four times a day for 12 weeks. Diclofenac sodium topical solution was compared to topical placebo (2.3% DMSO with other excipients) and/or topical vehicle solution (45.5% w/w DMSO with other excipients), applied directly to the study knee. In both trials, diclofenac sodium topical solution treatment resulted in statistically significant clinical improvement compared to placebo and/or vehicle, in all three primary efficacy variables-pain, physical function (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities LK3.1 OA Index (WOMAC) pain and physical function dimensions) and Patient Overall Health Assessment (POHA)/Patient Global Assessment (PGA). Numerical results are summarized in Tables 3 and 4.

Table 3: Change in treatment outcomes after 12 weeks of treatment in one study of efficacy of Diclofenac Sodium Topical Solution, 1.5% w/w

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Table 4: Change in treatment outcomes after 12 weeks of treatment in one study of efficacy of Diclofenac Sodium Topical Solution, 1.5% w/w

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