Stay Away From New Merck Painkiller

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December 02, 2006 | 19,249 views

Arcoxia, the drug that Merck hopes will take the place of its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, is getting mixed reviews from doctors, some of whom say that the results of studies on the drug do not make an adequate case for its approval.

Many have pointed out that Arcoxia was compared to an older drug (Voltaren) in clinical trials.

Both of the drugs raise the risk of heart problems, making Arcoxia's effects on the heart more difficult to assess. Even given that dubious comparison, more study patients quit taking Arcoxia due to elevated blood pressure, and congestive heart failure was more common among patients receiving higher doses of Arcoxia.

Dr. Steven Nissen, a cardiologist who formerly headed the FDA's cardiac drug advisory panel, believes that the drug should not be approved. Dr. David Graham, an FDA drug safety expert who has criticized his agency's handling of Vioxx, agreed with Nissen. Vioxx, like Arcoxia, is a kind of drug called a cox-2 inhibitor; Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 over safety concerns about heart risks.

In the wake of the controversy, Merck is now limiting its FDA request regarding the approval of Arcoxia to two dose levels for osteoarthritis, rather than for a range of doses and treatments, including for rheumatoid arthritis.



Looks like my hero at the FDA, Dr. David Graham (the physician who exposed the Vioxx scandal to Congress), is on track again. 

He strongly believes that the study used to approve this drug was intentionally designed to minimize the possibility of their having a repeat of what happened with the VIGOR study, which revealed Vioxx's heart risks.

Dr. Graham said that the new research "raises red flags," and the drug should never have been approved. He said, "There's every reason to think it suffers from the same problems as Vioxx."

I was the first person to warn the public about Vioxx five years before it was taken off the market. So PLEASE don't let them deceive you again. If your doctor even suggests using the new drug Arcoxia (etoricoxib), Merck's newest replacement for its heart-stopping pain reliever Vioxx, run as fast as you can in the other direction.

Unless, that is, you want to risk following the path of the 60,000 that met an early death by taking Vioxx.

You may not realize that you can now comment AND vote on articles at Vital Votes. Your participation will actually help select the articles that are sent out in this newsletter. And if your comments are good enough they will be posted in the newsletter.

If you aren't registered make sure you do so register now at Vital Votes. You have a chance of having your comment posted like one alert reader from Washington, Pennsylvania that noted:

"The sudden reduction in the number of symptoms Merck is requesting approval for is most likely a direct result of the study released [November 13] that found that this drug causes heart problems, gastric bleeding, fluid retention and high blood pressure. Chiropractic care offers drug free treatment for osteoarthritis.

We don't need another chemical. We need to educate the health care consumer."

Fortunately there are several natural and protective ways to treat your pain without resorting to a potentially toxic drug like Arcoxia, including:

Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.

Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains specific active anti-inflammatory ingredients, referred to as boswellic acids that animal studies have shown significantly reduce inflammation. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many of my rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Bromelain: This enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.

Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have also used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.

Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain. If you struggle with dry skin in the winter, it is a strong indicator that you are deficient in these fats.

Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to the brain.



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