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COX-2 inhibitor pulled off market

The recall of rofecoxib (Vioxx) raises the question of whether the heart attack and stroke risks uncovered in recent research are unique to this drug or common to other COX-2 inhibitors, the Oct. 9 Lancet declares in an editorial. "The short history of COX-2 inhibitors has been plagued by safety concerns," according to the journal.

Celecoxib (Celebrex) and valdecoxib (Bextra) are the other COX-2 inhibitors widely marketed for pain and other arthritis symptoms. Such drugs suppress the COX-2 (cyclo-oxygenase-2) enzyme, a known inflammatory agent. The drugs quell inflammation and pain as effectively as aspirin or ibuprofen do, but with less irritation to the stomach.

In light of a Food and Drug Administration health advisory issued on Sept. 30, Merck & Co. of Whitehouse Station, N.J., took rofecoxib off the market.

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