What Is The Difference Between Cataflam And Voltaren?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the difference between Cataflam and Voltaren.

What Is The Difference Between Cataflam And Voltaren?
Sep 10, 2020

Tracnmud59 asked

Can you describe the difference between Cataflam and Voltaren? Thanks!

At a glance

  • Voltaren is the brand of a drug called diclofenac sodium, Cataflam is the brand of diclofenac potassium.
  • Voltaren is available in several different strengths whereas Cataflam is just one.
  • At equivalent doses, both drugs are similar, though Voltaren may have less stomach upset and Cataflam may offer faster pain relief.

Answer

Hi and thanks for writing to us. I remember when I was a pharmacy intern still in pharmacy school; I asked the pharmacist at the store the same question. Their response was “not much!” While the two drugs aren’t very different, there are a few differences between them.

First, Voltaren is the brand name of the drug Diclofenac Sodium. Cataflam is the brand name of Diclofenac Potassium. Diclofenac needs to be bound to a molecule like sodium or potassium in order for you to absorb them, but there really isn’t any significant difference between which molecule it’s bound to. The only time that I’ve ever seen the molecule that a drug is bound to matter is when a patient is in kidney failure since they have a tough time eliminating potassium. This shouldn’t matter with oral diclofenac since it and drugs like it shouldn’t be taken by patients with kidney issues.

Next is the different strengths and formulations that exist. Cataflam is only available in one strength, an immediate release 50mg tablet. Voltaren is available in several more strengths and formulations, a gel, an eye drop, 25mg, 50mg, and 75mg enteric coated tablets, and a 100mg extended release tablet.

You might be wondering what is the difference between the oral formulations of both medications if you were to take the 50mg dose? Cataflam is an immediate release tablet. It gets broken down and dissolved in your stomach, then absorbed in the beginning of your small intestine. It is absorbed relatively quickly and reaches its peak concentration in your blood in about an hour. Voltaren is an enteric coated or delayed release tablet. Voltaren tablets have a special coating on them which only dissolves in the basic upper region of the small intestine, so it avoids being dissolved in the stomach. It might cause less stomach irritation because of this, but is also absorbed slower, reaching peak blood concentration after about 2.3 hours.

Lastly, there is a difference in price. While both medications are covered by the majority of commercial insurance plans, diclofenac potassium is over two times more expensive than diclofenac sodium when comparing a 50mg dose. Again, neither medication is overly expensive, but if price is a big concern, I would recommend diclofenac sodium.

I hope this helps to clear up any confusion. Feel free to write us again in the future!

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