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Pfizer’s Celebrex found to be safe on hearts after 10-year clinical study

Published on 14/11/16 at 09:38am

Pfizer’s drug, Celebrex, has been vindicated as of equivalent safety, or better, than ibuprofen and naproxen, after a 10-year study. Celebrex (celecoxib) is used as a type of painkiller for those suffering from arthritis.

Celebrex belongs to a class of drugs called Cox-2 inhibitors. Doubts have been held about the safety of the drug after MSD’s Vioxx, also a Cox-2 inhibitor, was withdrawn from the market in 2004, after it was linked to an increase in the risk of heart attacks.

The doubts over Celebrex’s safety can now be dispelled as the 10-year study found that cardiovascular events occurred in 2.3% of patients taking celecoxib, compared with 2.5% of those taking naproxen and 2.7% of those taking ibuprofen. There was also secondary analysis that showed that serious gastrointestinal events were placed at 1.1% for celecoxib, 1.5% of patients taking naproxen and 1.6% of those taking ibuprofen.

“We are pleased with the results of this landmark study. Questions about the cardiovascular safety of prescription NSAIDs have persisted since the withdrawal of Vioxx (rofecoxib) from the market in 2004,” said Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc. “The study demonstrated that patients treated with prescription doses of celecoxib, ibuprofen or naproxen had similar rates of cardiovascular events and dispels the long held perception of excess cardiovascular risk associated with long term use of Celebrex.”

The landmark 10-year study means that Celebrex is now off-patent and there are numerous generics produced by generics companies, such as Teva Pharmaceuticals and Mylan. However, the study will have the potential to influence those within the medical community tasked with providing pain-relief to patients and sales could potentially increase.

It should be noted that there have been several reservations held about the trials, with the celecoxib prescribed at lower strengths than the two other forms of pain relief and no form of placebo to test all of the medicines against.

Ben Hargreaves

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