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COX-2 Inhibitors Under Scrutiny in Wake of Rofecoxib Withdrawal


In what is likely the largest drug recall ever in terms of sales, Merck announced on September 30 a worldwide, voluntary withdrawal of Vioxx, its brand of rofecoxib. The action was prompted by compelling results from a colon polyp prevention study that showed an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke associated with use of the drug, which last year accounted for $2.5 billion of Merck’s sales. All agents in this class—including some investigational agents that had appeared promising from an effectiveness standpoint—are now under intense scrutiny, but Pfizer is initiating a study of celecoxib (Celebrex) that the company believes could show a cardioprotective effect of this agent, which is less selective than other drugs in this category.


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