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Drug alert:

About the author: 

America's drug 'watchdog', the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), had a nice Christmas present for the pharmaceuticals

America's drug 'watchdog', the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), had a nice Christmas present for the pharmaceuticals. On Christmas Eve it told all doctors in the USA to treat with extreme caution the entire family of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin, and which embraces the more recent version, the COX-2 agents.
While nobody was especially surprised about the COX-2 warning after their association with serious heart problems, few expected a blanket warning about the entire NSAID family, one of the most lucrative to the pharmaceutical industry.
The FDA has been very slow to act over the COX-2 drugs, which even the manufacturers were admitting represented a danger to health as far back as last September. Possibly sensitive to public concerns about its role as watchdog, the FDA moved with speed in issuing a warning about the entire NSAID range, so catching everyone out, including the pharmaceutical companies.
Just days before the Christmas holidays the agency received the results from a clinical trial that suggested long-term use of naproxen, an NSAID, could cause heart problems.
This follows on from concerns about the COX-2 drugs Celebrex (celecoxib) and Bextra (valdecoxib), which have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
While the warning went out to doctors, the FDA is also concerned about consumers who regularly buy an NSAID, such as aspirin, for long-term use. Use them 'in strict accordance with the label directions', the FDA states, and never take them for more than 10 days at a time.


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