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August 2008 Off the Wire . . .



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Arthritis: Vioxx alternative is also killing the patient

31 July 2008

Drug companies just can’t get it right when trying to come up with a safe drug for arthritis. Following the catalogue of deaths associated with the COX-2 drug Vioxx, doctors started to recommend a new drug group – but this, too, seem to be killing the patient.

The TNF (tumour necrosis factor)-blocking drugs have been responsible for causing lymphoma in patients – and now they have been found to cause tuberculosis (TB). The TNF drug, Enbrel, is causing serious – and sometimes fatal – infections, including TB. Arthritis patients who also suffer from diabetes have been especially vulnerable, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), America’s drug regulator, has announced.

Enbrel has also been responsible for serious nervous disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), seizures, and inflammation of the nerves and eyes. In addition, there have also been cases of fatal blood disorders.

As Enbrel lowers the body’s natural immune system, it’s not surprising that serious illness can follow.

It’s reckoned that another arthritis drug, Vioxx, a COX-2 agent, was responsible for at least 60,000 deaths.

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