The COX-2s were supposed to be safer painkillers than aspirin, but a new study has found that they increase the chances of a fatal stroke by up to 53 per cent.
Several COX-2s have already been taken off the market, but those that remain-including diclofenac and celecoxib-are just as lethal.
New users of the drugs, which are usually prescribed for easing arthritis pain, are especially at risk of suffering a fatal stroke, say researchers from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.
The risk was greatest for etodolac, marketed as Lodine, Etopan or Eccoxolac, one of the 'older generation' COX-2s; patients taking this drug were 53 per cent more likely to suffer a fatal stroke compared to those not taking a COX-2. The next highest risk group were those who had just started taking a COX-2; for them, the risk of a fatal stroke was 42 per cent. Existing users had a 19 per cent increased risk.
The researchers based their findings on an analysis of 100,243 people who were receiving hospital treatment after suffering a first stroke.
(Source: Neurology, 2014; doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001024)