A COX-2 inhibitor is a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used to reduce pain, fever and inflammation. NSAIDs block the body’s natural defense mechanism against injury by inhibiting the release of prostaglandins (hormone-like chemical messengers). Aspirin and ibuprofen are two of the more common NSAIDs.
COX-2 inhibitors target the COX-2 enzyme, a naturally occurring cyclooxygenase (COX) enzyme that is responsible for causing inflammation and pain. The COX-2 enzyme is one of two naturally occurring cyclooxygenase enzymes; the COX-1 enzyme being the other.
COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes produce prostaglandins and therefore play a role in the promotion of pain, fever and inflammation associated with the body’s defense against injury. The primary difference between COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes is that COX-1 enzymes protect the stomach lining from certain digestive acids while also helping to maintain kidney functionality.
As opposed to COX-2 inhibitors, traditional NSAIDs inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. By inhibiting COX-1 enzymes, traditional NSAIDs limit the production of “good prostaglandins” serving as protection of the stomach lining. COX-2 inhibitors only target COX-2 enzymes, sparing patients from the intestinal irritation that is commonly associated with NSAID usage.
COX-2 Inhibitors Side Effects
The use of COX-2 inhibitors has been linked with the possible development of a variety of mild to severe side effects. The most serious of these side effects, which are now known to occur with some frequency, are cardiovascular side effects and Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a serious allergic skin reaction. These side effects depend on the patient and his or her dosage. The cardiovascular side effects include myocardial infarction (heart attack), thrombosis (blood clots) and stroke. These serious cardiovascular conditions, along with the occurrence of Stevens Johnson Syndrome, have lead to close scrutiny of all COX-2 inhibitors and the recall of two of them.
There are a number of notorious COX-2 inhibitors that have garnered a great deal of attention because of their propensity to cause the development of serious side effects in patients being treated with the various drug types.
Notorious COX-2 Inhibitors
The three most notorious COX-2 inhibitors are Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra.
Vioxx is the brand name for rofecoxib, arguably the most notorious of the COX-2 inhibitors. Developed and marketed by Merck & Co., Vioxx was voluntarily withdrawn from the market on September 27th, 2004, after a slew of medical reports linked the COX-2 inhibitor to patients’ increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Merck & Co. has found itself at the center of personal injury litigation focused on compensating the many victims of the controversial COX-2 inhibitor.
Celebrex is the brand name for celecoxib, a type of COX-2 inhibitor that is commonly associated with the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Developed and marketed by Pfizer, Celebrex received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1998 and has been prescribed to more than 29 million people. Although Celebrex has not yet been recalled, it faces increased scrutiny because of its relation to Vioxx and its potentially harmful side effects such as Stevens Johnson Syndrome, heart attack or stroke. In addition to the potential cardiovascular side effects, Celebrex is also linked to Stevens Johnson Syndrome.
Bextra is the brand name for valdecoxib, a prescription drug that, like Celebrex, is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Developed and marketed by G.D. Searle and Company, Bextra was removed from market on April 7th, 2005, because of concerns regarding side effects associated with use of the drug. Although Bextra has not been associated with the serious cardiovascular side effects to the same extent as Vioxx, the occurrence of Stevens Johnson Syndrome is much more common with Bextra use than with other COX-2 inhibitors.
Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra are three COX-2 inhibitors that have found themselves at the center of personal injury litigation because of the serious side effects that have resulted from use of the drugs. Those who have been injured may be eligible for compensation.
Drug manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety and efficacy of their products before marketing them for public consumption. Failure to do so is considered negligent and grounds for personal injury litigation. The Pensacola personal injury attorneys of Aylstock, Witkin Kreis & Overholtz handle national litigation across the United States for victims injured by defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices. They have successfully represented and obtained substantial compensation for a number of patients who have been harmed by defective drugs. Contact AWKO law today at (844) 794-7402 to get more information about your rights as a COX-2 inhibitor injury victim.