Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most commonly prescribed group of drugs. Patients receiving NSAIDs often experience abdominal discomfort, and some of them develop serious gastrointestinal complications, such as ulceration, bleeding, perforation, or obstruction. Gastrointestinal side effects of NSAIDs are mostly attributed to cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition resulting in reduction of prostaglandin in gastric mucosa. Topical irritant effects are also contributed to their systemic effect of prostaglandin inhibition. Anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs are mediated by COX-2 inhibition, while COX-1 inhibition is responsible for gastric prostaglandin inhibition. Management of gastrointestinal complications of NSAIDs is costly. In order to prevent or treat the gastrointestinal complications of NSAIDs, anti-ulcer drugs can be used concomitantly. Other alternative is the application or substitution of COX-2 selective inhibitors, which spare gastric mucosal prostaglandin synthesis and do not damage the gastric mucosa. Application of COX-2 selective inhibitors as a first line treatment for arthritic disorders may not be cost-effective, if patients do not have any risk factors including advanced age, history of complicating peptic ulcer, concomitant anticoagulant and corticosteroid medication. Patients with risk factors or those developing gastrointestinal complications during the course of NSAID treatment can be treated with COX-2 selective inhibitors if necessary.