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Heart risks of Vioxx persist after drug is stopped

Consumer Reports News: December 13, 2010 04:23 PM

People who thought they were in the clear after they stopped taking the now banned painkiller rofecoxib (Vioxx) might have to think again. The risks of the drug, which was pulled off the market in 2004 after it was linked to heart attacks and strokes, persist even after people stop taking it, according to a study released Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The findings also serve as a reminder to use caution with related painkillers that are still available, notably celecoxib (Celebrex). Some studies suggest it might pose similar, though less severe, risks to the heart. Other related drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil and generic) and naproxen (Aleve and generic), might as well. And all of those drugs, called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), can cause dangerous gastrointestinal bleeding and other problems, especially when taken long term. See our advice on when to take an NSAID.

The new study found that seniors  with mild cognitive impairment who had taken Vioxx had a higher rate of cardiovascular problems and death up to nearly a year and a half after they stopped taking the drug compared with those who took a placebo. It's unknown whether those risks persist even longer because none of the people in the study were followed past 500 days after they stopped taking Vioxx.

 —Steve Mitchell, associate editor, Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs

Joel Keehn

   

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