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A deadly med gets the FDA okay to be manufactured 'on the cheap'

Heart attacks, stroke, stomach bleeding — now available in a generic

Dear Reader,

You would think the FDA would have learned a lesson from the Vioxx tragedy.

Tens of thousands of people died because of that drug.

It’s now gone — “voluntarily” taken off the shelf. But we’re still not safe.

That’s because its “cousin” drug, Celebrex, is still out there. And the FDA is doing nothing to protect us from it.

Actually, it’s doing just the opposite.

It has just allowed a generic version of Celebrex to be sold. And the only thing different about this drug is that it will be cheaper. And you know what that means — more people will start taking it.

So I want to be sure you know its name. And if your doctor hands you a prescription for it, hand it right back to him.

Because this “new” generic is no safer than the fancy brand-name version pitched in all those commercials.

Celebrex is the only “COX-2 selective” inhibitor left on the shelf. The other two, Bextra and Vioxx, were both voluntarily pulled off the market.

The generic name for this drug is celecoxib. And that’s what it will say on the bottle of the generic version.

If you want to know about the risks of Celebrex, or celecoxib, just close your eyes when the commercial comes on and listen. Don’t look at all the fun things the people are doing, just hear the words.

And what you’ll hear among the many side effects is “death.” (It’s actually said twice!)

That’s no accident. Believe me, if Pfizer didn’t have to say that, they sure wouldn’t.

But they do. And they hope you won’t notice.

But it’s hard to ignore these two studies from 2006 that were in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers were studying whether Celebrex could prevent colon polyps. What they found instead was that it doubled the risk of serious heart problems. Problems like heart attacks, strokes, heart failure…and death.

And two other studies in 2004 actually were stopped because the heart risks were so high.

And Pfizer sure doesn’t want anyone to remember what was uncovered in a lawsuit back in 2012 — about what it did when Celebrex first came out 16 years ago.

In those days Pfizer had a lot of competition in the pain-relief market. Its big selling point was that its new drug was easier on the stomach. It certainly was no better at taking pain away, so it needed an edge.

And when the studies didn’t turn out as hoped, well, the company just made things turn out the way it wanted.

When they were taken to court — not over health concerns but in a case of misleading investors — what turned up was shocking.

Company officials made a decision to “cherry pick” the data sent to the FDA about the drug. And while they were picking and choosing what tidbits to give the agency, they were publicly boasting of its advantages. But wait till you hear this…

A Pfizer research director was so excited after its “data” was featured at a medical conference, one saying that Celebrex was safer on the stomach, he sent an email that said: “They swallowed our story, hook, line and sinker.”

Well, at least not everyone has swallowed the story.

The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen has had Celebrex — celecoxib — on its “do not use” list for years.

And even the mainstream Consumer Reports says to only use it “as a last resort,” and only if you are at low risk for heart disease, don’t have diabetes, high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure.

So who are all those millions who are getting an Rx for this drug every year? Are they all free of heart disease, diabetes and those other risk factors? Not likely.

That’s why it’s so important to know that celecoxib IS Celebrex — and you shouldn’t swallow it — hook, line or sinker.

Sources:
“FDA approves generic version of painkiller Celebrex” May 30, 2014, Philly.Com, philly.com

“Celebrex is a threat to the heart” Liz Szabo, USA Today, usatoday.com

“In documents on pain drug, signs of doubt and deception” Katie Thomas, June 24, 2012, The New York Times, nytimes.com