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Celebrex Leaves Nothing to Celebrate: Arthritis Medication Increases Heart Attack Risk

Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of physical disability in the United States. Arthritis pain affects more than 50 million American adults. The untreated pain can be severe enough to prevent a person from being able to work, care for herself, or enjoy spending time with family and friends. Many people with osteoarthritis rely on prescription pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs in order to just get through the day.

The first drugs used to treat arthritic pain were a class of drugs known as salicylates. These drugs were very effective, but were toxic when taken for long periods of time. Pharmaceutical companies searched for a safer option. They developed a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The problem was that when they used over long periods of time, many NSAIDs could cause serious digestive problems, including stomach ulcers.

COX-2 inhibitors are a different type of NSAID. These drugs target the enzymes that cause inflammation and pain without causing damage to the stomach lining. The first COX-2 inhibitor was Celebrex. It was approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in 1998.

Vioxx, another COX-2 inhibitor, was approved in 1999. The drug was very popular. Within five years, more than 100 million prescriptions were written for the drug. However, the drug had serious side effects. Studies showed that patients taking Vioxx for 18 months or longer had double the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke. In 2004, Merck pulled the drug from the market.

Celebrex was not recalled. However, Pfizer was ordered to stop advertising the drug and Celebrex was given a black box warning. A black box warning is reserved for medications that have risks that may outweigh the benefits. The black box on Celebrex warns that the drug may increase the risk of serious and potentially blood clots that can cause stroke or heart attack.

Pfizer shareholders filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that the pharmaceutical giant misrepresented the safety of Celebrex and other COX-2 inhibitors. Pfizer tried to convince a judge to dismiss the case, but last March a judge ruled that there was reasonable evidence that Pfizer was aware of serious side-effects and the case could go to trial.

Those who suffered heart attacks while taking Celebrex may also file a claim against the company. To learn more about Celebrex class action lawsuits in Wisconsin, please contact the  experienced pharmaceutical injury lawyers at Hupy and Abraham at (800) 800-5678 . We offer free consultations to those injured by dangerous drugs.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham