Vioxx, Part Deux?

From the Chicago Tribune:

Given the option of living with pain or an increased heart attack risk, some Baby Boomers are assuming the risk and going back to a drug still considered potentially dangerous by the government. Two years after Vioxx and other powerful arthritis pain fighters were linked to cardiovascular trouble, there is a big comeback under way for those types of drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors.

One of them, Pfizer Inc.’s Celebrex, saw its sales jump 18 percent last year, even though it must now be sold with a “black box” label warning of the risk to the heart.

Now Merck & Co., which pulled Vioxx from the market in 2004 and is fighting billions of dollars in court damage claims, is trying again with another Cox-2 drug. It is seeking U.S. approval to introduce Arcoxia, while the Swiss drug giant Novartis AG is doing a large clinical safety trial of its own Cox-2, Prexige. Later this year, Novartis will ask U.S. regulators for permission to market it.

There is no doubt that seniors are in desperate need of pain relief, but hopefully this time Merck and the FDA will exercise more caution than they did with Vioxx.

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