FDA To Weigh Fate Of Bextra, Celebrex, Similar Drugs

Published: Feb 14, 2005

When it debuted in 1999, Vioxx was hailed as a wonder drug, even though its advantage lay not in better pain relief but in fewer side effects. Soon, the drug and others like it in the same class of cox-2 inhibitors became widely prescribed, particularly to arthritis sufferers, thanks to heavy advertising by manufacturers. Now, the drugs face intense scrutiny over heart risks posed by the medicines. Starting Wednesday, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel will meet for three days to debate the future of the cox-2s and perhaps even their predecessors, the cox-1s. At issue is the safety of the drugs. Although originally introduced as a better alternative to traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen -- all of which increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding -- recent evidence suggests the cox-2s, as well as naproxen, may elevate the risk of heart attack and stroke.

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