New Arthritis Drugs Reduce Ulcer Risk -- At a Cost
WebMD News Archive
The second study, led by a researcher from Birmingham, England, looked at
the risk of serious ulcers among people who took Vioxx. To increase accuracy,
researchers combined the results of eight studies that included a total of more
than 5,000 patients who took Vioxx for arthritis.
The researchers found that people taking Vioxx were about half as likely as
those taking a traditional NSAID to have ulcers that perforated the stomach
wall, which caused bleeding or pain.
Such a reduction is important, but it appears more dramatic than it really
is, says Peterson. He says that's because even among people who take large
doses of aspirin or similar NSAIDs every day, dangerous or painful ulcers are
So Peterson says the new drugs should be reserved for older people or people
who have already had an ulcer. "For low-risk patients," he says,
"the cost of preventing serious ulcers by using these drugs is very high --
about $400,000 for each complication avoided."
The study involving Celebrex was funded by G.D. Searle & Co., maker of
the drug. The research involving Vioxx received funding from its maker, Merck
& Co. Inc.
- Two new prescription drugs for treating arthritis, Celebrex and Vioxx, work
just as well as older medications but are less likely to cause ulcers.
- The occurrence of dangerous or painful ulcers as a side effect is rare,
even among people who take large, daily doses of aspirin or other similar
- The new arthritis drugs are much more expensive and, according to an
editorialist, should be reserved for people at high risk of getting an