COX-2 inhibitors are a class of pain relief medications that target the COX-2 enzyme, a molecule that is involved in causing inflammation. Unlike salicylate medications such as aspirin, these drugs do not affect COX-1 enzymes, so COX-2 inhibitors don’t cause ulcers, stomach upset and other gastrointestinal side effects.
Examples of COX-2 inhibitors include:
- Celebrex (Celecoxib)
- Vioxx (Rofecoxib)
- Bextra (Valdecoxib)
These drugs were originally approved for the treatment of pain due to arthritis, menstruation, and general causes.
Both Vioxx and Bextra were pulled from the market after studies found that long-term use of COX-2 inhibitors significantly increased a patient’s risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular side effects. When these drugs suppress the COX-2, they also suppress the production of prostacyclin, a hormone that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood clotting. This increases the risk of dangerous blood clots that can cause both heart attack and stroke.
Celebrex is still prescribed, but the FDA has required that the drug carry a black box warning. A black box warning is used when there is a possibility that the risks of taking a drug will outweigh the benefits. A black box is the strongest level of warning that can be required by the FDA.
Pfizer, the maker of both Celebrex and Bextra, is currently the subject of a pharmaceutical class action lawsuit.
If you or someone you love suffered a heart attack while taking Celebrex or Bextra, you may be able to join a Wisconsin class action lawsuit against Pfizer. Please contact the Appleton pharmaceutical injury lawyers at Hupy and Abraham for more information, (800) 800-5678 .