Curt D. Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., professor of public health sciences, and colleagues describe an analysis of two studies revealed that patients treated with Bextra after heart bypass surgery tripled their risk of heart attack and stroke compared to patients who received a placebo, or "dummy" drug. The data is a followup to information reported at the American Heart Association meeting in November.
"These data raise questions about the safety of the drug in other patients who have heart conditions, but who aren't having surgery," said Furberg. "In the absence of evidence of safety, it is prudent to avoid the use of Bextra altogether or use it only as a drug of last resort," says the editorial. Furberg's co-authors are Bruce M. Psaty, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and Garret A. FitzGerald, M.D., from the University of Pennsylvania.
The researchers say the Bextra results, combined with studies showing cardiovascular hazards with Celebrex and Vioxx, "provide compelling evidence that these adverse coronary and cerebrovascular events represent a class effect" The drugs are all part of a class called COX-2 inhibitors.
"A black-box warning that alerts practitioners to the potential cardiovascular hazards, especially in patients at moderate to high risk, seems timely for all COX-2 inhibitors," said Psaty.
Furberg supports the advice of the Food and Drug Administration, which issued a Public Health Advisory on COX-2 inhibitors and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug products urging physicians to weigh the benefits against the risk for individual patients.