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Studies Contradict on Safety of Cox 2 Inhibitor Drugs

Studies Contradict on Safety of Cox 2 Inhibitor Drugs

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingNew information today about those controversial arthritis painkillers. We're talking about the recalled drug Vioxx and others still on the market, like Celebrex and Bextra, known as Cox-2 inhibitors. Two studies are out that conflict each other about the drugs' safety. There’s even word that one of the big HMO's is refusing -- on its own -- to prescribe one of the drugs.

Kaiser Permanente is pulling the plug on Bextra, saying its potential benefits do not outweigh the fact that it may cause harm. In various studies all three drugs have been found to increase heart attack risk in some patients.

Only Vioxx has been recalled. The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen has already petitioned the FDA to pull Celebrex and Bextra off the market. Now Public Citizen claims to have found a small study by Pfizer -- the maker of Celebrex -- showing the company knew of its risks four years ago.

Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen's Health Research Group: “Pfizer not only has failed to tell people in this country about this study, but has told them just the opposite. When Vioxx came off the market Pfizer said, ‘Their drug causes cardiac problems, ours doesn’t.’”

However, another new study by Canadian researchers is out today which complicates the picture. It found no increased heart attack risk with Celebrex. The FDA has an emergency meeting next month to make some decisions about the Cox-2 inhibitors.

Problem is, millions of people are enormously helped by these drugs. An alternative could be a group of drugs called NSAIDS, which were the precursor to Cox-2's. But NSAIDS have their issues; they cause stomach problems.

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