Painkillers are popular. Nearly $2 billion are spent annually
in the U.S. on prescription NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs), not to mention nonprescription drugs in this class
(which include aspirin and ibuprofen). These drugs, widely
used for arthritis, take their toll: Every year, approximately
100,000 Americans are hospitalized and 16,500 die from NSAID-associated
To reduce ulcer complications, specialized NSAIDs (called
"COX-2-selective NSAIDs") such as Vioxx and Celebrex - which
reportedly cause minimal stomach damage - are being prescribed
for arthritis patients. To compare these "safer" treatments
to other NSAIDs for arthritis, roughly 300 patients with arthritis
and a predisposition to ulcer bleeding were divided to receive
either regular NSAIDs or the special NSAIDs daily.
After six months, the probability of recurrent ulcer bleeding
was nearly the same in both groups: about 6% in the regular-NSAID
group and 5% in the special-NSAID group. Renal failure, hypertension
and fluid build-up in the legs were observed in nearly the
same number of patients in both groups, although the newer
drugs appeared to offer some advantage.
The authors of this study in The New England Journal of
Medicine note that patients receiving the new drugs showed
an incidence of ulcer complications that continued to rise
beyond the six-month study period. Arthritis patients at a
high risk for recurrent ulcers don't appear to have a much
safer treatment option in newer painkillers. Perhaps a holistic,
drug-free approach to arthritis would be better. Talk to your
chiropractor for more information.
Chan FKL, Hung LCT, et al. Celecoxib versus diclofenac and
omeprazole in reducing the risk of recurrent ulcer bleeding
in patients with arthritis. The New England Journal of
Medicine 2002:347(26), pp. 2104-2110.
For more information on general health, go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/general.