Researchers at Imperial College London and Queen Mary, London, are suggesting that drugs related to the withdrawn Vioxx may still be the best drugs for treating arthritis.
They argue that although Vioxx and related drugs have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, the same might also be true for the more conventional non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Jane Mitchell and her colleagues have reviewed the medical literature on the use of NSAIDs and Vioxx-like drugs and are convinced that despite the cardiovascular side-effects of certain COX-2 drugs they could still be the drug of choice for certain patients without cardiovascular risk factors, especially if they cannot tolerate NSAIDs because of the gastric side effects of those drugs.
It’s all about benefit-risk management (BRM) which sounds a little like marketing jargon, but underpins a much more effective attitude to medicine than holistically abandoning effective drugs.
Regardless of the status of Vioxx and its analogues there is much imminent movement in the pharmaceutical industry as the likes of GlaxoSmithkline vie for pole position in the market for the successor to COX-2 inhibitors. Of course, if Mitchell and her colleagues are right, then, the generic NSAID manufacturers could take another nice chunk of that market before it’s even opened up.