How to spell pain relief in the wake of COX-2 problems

Taking drugs of any kind is never without risks, but setbacks surrounding the vigorously marketed COX-2 inhibitors have really brought this home.

It's been tough going for pain relievers since the pharmaceutical company Merck pulled its COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib (Vioxx) from the market in fall 2004, valdecoxib (Bextra) was pulled in March 2005, and the one remaining COX-inhibitor, celecoxib (Celebrex), was also found to have cardiovascular risks.

The COX-2 drugs are a new type of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs relieve pain and inflammation by inhibiting an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase (COX). COX has different jobs throughout the body.

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