You've heard the heart concerns about expensive pain relievers, including Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra, and even over the counter Aleve. Friday, a panel advised the FDA that these drugs do increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But they are okay to use, and they can stay on the market with severe restrictions, including an end to much of their advertising.
"It should be given to very restricted patient populations, in limited doses, and limited duration. There should be absolutely no direct to consumer advertising." Dr. Alastair Wood, Vanerbilt University, Panel Chairman.
You remember the scare began in September when Merck voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market. Now Merck says that with the FDA's approval, Vioxx will be back this after the panel heard from so many arthritis patients who argued the pain relief from these drugs was worth more to them than an increased risk of heart trouble.
So now, the panel is recommending the drugs be sold with a so-called "black box" warning, which brings the strongest language ever telling doctors and patients of the heart disease and stroke risk-- something that will eliminate much of the advertising.
As far as heart concerns about Naproxin, which is sold over the counter as Aleve. The panel said those were almost certainly a false alarm and that it is safe when used as directed. The FDA scientists did suggest, though, that consumers try milder medicine first, like aspirin and Tylenol, then go on to stronger stuff only when it is absolutely necessary.