Features January 2017 Issue

Study Finds Similar Heart Risk for Common Painkillers

Cleveland Clinic research suggests celecoxib as safe as other common meds.

When the painkiller rofecoxib (Vioxx®) was taken off the market in 2004 for patient safety reasons, researchers started looking at the long-term safety of a similar drug: celecoxib (Celebrex®).

After 10 years of study, Cleveland Clinic researchers have an answer. At prescription-strength levels, celecoxib was found to pose no greater risk than prescription-strength naproxen (Naprosyn®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®).

While the findings of the PRECISION trial are encouraging, researchers also note that all of these painkillers pose threats to gastrointestinal and kidney health.

In the study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers studied the safety of the drugs in people with arthritis, and who also had heart disease or were at risk for heart disease.

“The trial’s primary message is that celecoxib is not riskier for the heart than other NSAIDs,” says study leader Steven Nissen, MD, chairman of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic. “The PRECISION trial studied full-prescription doses of these drugs, not the lower doses available in over-the-counter preparations. The safety findings may or may not apply to the typical intermittent use of lower doses of these drugs by many patients.”

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