FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Evanston, IL— March 9, 2005 –Nearly two-thirds of patients who were taking a COX-2 inhibitor prior to the Vioxx recall and Celebrex/Bextra study findings have abandoned this class of pain medication, according to a new poll by Spine-health.com (www.spine-health.com).
The Spine-health.com poll of 375 back pain patients who were taking Celebrex, Bextra, or Vioxx shows that only 36% are still taking some brand of COX-2 inhibitors. 42% switched to other pain medications (e.g., Aleve, Advil, Bayer, Tylenol) and 9% switched to non-drug pain relievers (e.g., herbal/dietary supplements). Surprisingly, 13% are forgoing any medication until more safety information is available.
“This poll illustrates the high level of concern among patients about the potential side effects of COX-2 inhibitors,” says Andrew Cole , M.D., a physiatrist in Bellevue, Washington. “And the side effects can’t be ignored – studies show a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke, especially for those patients who are elderly or who have taken the drugs for long periods of time. Bextra also potentially carries the risk of blood clots and a serious skin reaction.” And what patients may now realize is that COX-2’s don’t necessarily alleviate pain any better than other pain medications, including those available over the counter.
COX-2’s do remain a viable and perhaps preferred option for certain patients, such as those at risk for ulcers. “What medications to take is really a case-by-case decision that each patient needs to make with the guidance of his or her doctor, since so many individual factors come in to play, including the patient’s medical condition, clinical situation, age, lifestyle and past experience with medications,” adds Dr. Cole.
According to Spine-health.com, the following principles should be considered when re-evaluating a patient’s medication plan: (1) When doctors or patients have any concerns about a medication based on new medical findings or media comments, they should talk openly with one other; (2) Even if the patient’s conditions improve, it may not be prudent to reduce or discontinue their medications; (3) Medications should be used in the lowest dose that is effective; and (4) Since there is no universal substitute for any particular drug, each patient requires a personal evaluation to discuss alternatives.
Changing or discontinuing a pain medication is a major decision that significantly impacts quality of life for people with chronic back pain or arthritis. The Spine-health.com poll suggests that information about side effects made available to the public was powerful enough to cause flight from an entire class of drugs (and even from any drug), despite the potential for increased pain.
Further information on COX-2 inhibitors and related topics can be viewed at www.spine-health.com.
Spine-health.com provides in-depth information and resources for patients with back pain, neck pain, and full range of spinal disorders. Written and peer-reviewed by spine specialists, the site includes thousands of pages of original articles, animations and illustrations, clinical trial listings, a spine physician directory, and an active message board.