The data show a 'compelling trend' of heart attack and stroke risk.
NEW YORK (AP) -- A new study has linked painkillers Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra to increased cardiovascular risk, reinforcing findings of other trials that have already sparked concern over the safety of a popular category of drugs.
Vioxx and Celebrex increased patients' risk of heart attack and stroke by about 20 percent while Bextra increased the risk by 50 percent, according to a study by WellPoint Inc., the nation's largest provider of health benefits.
Dr. Sam Nussbaum, WellPoint's executive vice president and chief medical officer, said Monday the study is further evidence of an "increasingly compelling trend" of data that show the drugs elevate patients' risk of heart attack and stroke.
Later this week 0the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is holding hearings on the safety of the class of drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors. Merck & amp; Co. removed Vioxx from the market last year after a study showed it doubled patients' risk of heart attack and strokes.
Pfizer Inc. makes Bextra and Celebrex, which remain on the market.
WellPoint studied the records of 7,232 patients over the age of 40 taking one of the three drugs and compared them with records of 629,245 people older than the age of 40 who were not taking any of the drugs. WellPoint shared the data with researchers at Indiana University's medical school, who adjusted the information for heart attack and stroke risk factors, such as age.
WellPoint began the study after Vioxx was removed from the market. It examined patient records from January 2001 through June 30, 2004. All the patients were on the drugs for at least 18 months. Merck officials have insisted the problems with Vioxx didn't become apparent until patients were taking the drug for at least that long.
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