There is more bad news for users of Cox-2 inhibitor drugs (that includes now withdrawn drugs Vioxx and Bextra, and Celebrex, that is still available but carries a black box warning) and NSAIDs. According to research completed by Dutch scientists, risk of acute urinary retention (AUR) was twofold higher in current users of NSAIDs than in non-users. The highest risk for AUR was observed in patients who recently started using NSAIDs and in those using a dose equal to or higher than the recommended daily dose. AUR is characterized by the sudden inability to urinate, which is usually extremely painful and requires catheterization. (Related article: Risks of NSAIDs)
Cox-2 drugs and many painkillers have been under the spotlight after Vioxx was recalled in September 2004 by Merck. The FDA estimates that as many as 140,000 Americans were injured after taking Vioxx, while 50,000-60,000 Americans are dead. Since then Merck has been facing a barrage of lawsuits. The first ever Vioxx trial began this week in the case of Carol Ernst. It is estimated that Vioxx litigation could include over 100,000 lawsuits. (Related article: Documents prove that Merck hid Vioxx risks)
Katia Verhamme, Jeanne Dieleman, Marc Van Wijk, Johan van der Lei, Joseph Bosch, Bruno Stricker, and Miriam Sturkenboom conducted a population based case-control study. While the FDA has already warned about indiscriminate use of over-the-counter NSAID drugs, Canadian scientists went as far as arguing that Ibuprofen may be as dangerous as Vioxx.
Since the recall of Vioxx and Bextra, prescriptions for Celebrex have dropped significantly as arthritis patients have switched to alternative treatments. No data is yet available how these reports will impact sales of NSAIDs, but it appears that patients may seek more natural alternatives for pain relief.