Will June 2006 Circulation Article Affect Lawsuits Involving Bextra, Celebrex, And Vioxx?
In mid-June 2006 the medical journal Circulation published online an early-release version of a study which reveals that Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx were especially dangerous when used by people who had survived a heart attack. In more detail, medical researchers in Denmark found that taking COX-2 inhibitors -- a drug class which includes Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx -- as well as another group of painkiller called nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and diclofenac, are associated with an increased risk of a repeat heart attack or death in patients with established cardiovascular disease.
According to a Reuters Health article published June 20, 2006, Dr. Gunnar H. Gislason, from the Gentofte University Hospital in Hellerup, said in a press release issued by the American Heart Association: "Patients who have already suffered a heart attack appear be more vulnerable to the harmful effect of these medications."
This June 20 Reuters article summarized the increased risks for these drugs as follows:
Taking a low dose of a COX-2 inhibitor was tied to an approximate doubling of the risk of dying and about a 50 percent increase in the chances of having another heart attack. At higher doses, mortality risk was increased five-fold.
With high daily doses of NSAIDs, the likelihood of dying was doubled or quadrupled depending on the specific drug, and the risk of another heart attack went up 22 to 89 percent.
A June 19, 2006 Reuters Health article, meanwhile, pointed out that Dr. Gislason and his team of researchers reported in their Circulation article that this statistical analysis of Danish data "demonstrated a clear dose-related response in the increase in the risk of death for all drugs."
This June 19 Reuters article, also, provided more precise information about the extent of the increased risk of having a second heart attack or dying:
For [Vioxx] up to 25 mg/day, and [Celebrex] up to 200 mg/day (both considered to be low dose), the adjusted hazard ratios (AHR) were 2.49 and 1.92 for mortality and 1.68 and 1.47 for MI, respectively.
For [Vioxx and Celebrex] at higher doses, the adjusted hazard ratios for death were 5.26 and 4.69 for each, and for repeat MI, 1.27 and 1.64.
For high daily doses of more than 1200 mg of ibuprofen, the adjusted hazard ratio for death was 2.20, and for doses of diclofenac greater than 100 mg/day it was 4.44. For repeat MI, the corresponding adjusted hazard ratios were 1.22 and 1.89, respectively.
It remains to be seen whether these findings reported by Dr. Gislason and his team in their June 2006 Circulation article will have any affect on the ongoing Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx litigations.
(Posted by: Tom Lamb)