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More Evidence of Doctors Over-Prescribing Drugs

Chronic, high-dose consumption of the arthritis pain reliever Vioxx can raise blood pressure and the risk of serious heart problems, according to findings of a recent study. However, many doctors prescribe high doses of the drug to a substantial number of patients.

Researchers monitored the number of prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, naproxen, Celebrex and Vioxx, given to participants over age 49 in the study.

Of 40,000 participants who had prescriptions for any NSAID as of July 1, 2001, nearly 10,000 were taking Vioxx. More than 1,000 of them were "high-dose" Vioxx users, with 30-day supplies of 50-milligram pills. Half that amount is the recommended dose for long-term use.

The 50-milligram dose has not been shown to be more effective than lower doses of the drug in relieving chronic pain, and it has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks. One researcher noted the predominant thinking: If 25 milligrams works, a 50-milliagram dose will work better. But there is no scientific evidence to support that.

If you follow this site regularly, I discussed this connection between heart disease and vioxx five years ago when it was first published by the National Academy of Sciences. Although drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex may actually seem to work, but patients pay a huge price, both economically and physically. Does you really want to trade joint pain for a heart attack?

And, besides, the market for analgesics is about $10 BILLION dollars per year. That is one big number. That's why these are important drugs to watch. It is important to remember that anytime you are dealing with numbers that large there will inevitably be corruption, greed and negative influences that are a part of the story if drugs are involved.

EurekAlert July 13, 2004

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