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NIH halts use of COX-2 inhibitor in large cancer prevention trial

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that it has suspended the use of COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (Celebrex Pfizer, Inc.) for all participants in a large colorectal cancer prevention clinical trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The study, called the Adenoma Prevention with Celecoxib (APC) trial, was stopped because analysis by an independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board (DSMB) showed a 2.5-fold increased risk of major fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular events for participants taking the drug compared to those on a placebo.

Additional cardiovascular expertise was added to the safety monitoring committees at the request of the Steering Committees for this trial after a September 2004 report that the COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib (Vioxx) caused a two-fold increased risk of cardiovascular toxicities in a trial to prevent adenomas. The APC is a study of more than 2,000 people who have had a precancerous growth (adenomatous polyp) removed. They were randomized to take either 200 mg of celecoxib twice a day, 400 mg of celecoxib twice a day, or a placebo for three years. The trial began in early 2000 and is scheduled to have been completed by Spring 2005.

Investigators at the 100 sites in the APC trial located primarily in the United States, with a few additional sites in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, have been instructed to immediately suspend study drug use for all participants on the trial, although the participants will remain under observation for the planned remainder of the study.

"Data from the report on rofecoxib (Vioxx) informed us of the need to focus on specific cardiovascular issues, and our Institutes brought in the experts to do so, said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH Director. "Our overwhelming commitment is to advance the health and to protect the safety of participants in clinical trials. We are examining the use of these agents in all NIH-sponsored clinical studies. In addition, we
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Contact: John Burklow / Don Ralbovsky
301-496-5787
NIH/Office of the Director
17-Dec-2004


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