• Vol. 34 No. 2, 147–158
  • 15 March 2005

Empowering Physicians and Patients Through Greater Knowledge of Drugs, For Safety’s Sake

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Recently, a number of events occurred in the world of drug safety surveillance, also known as pharmacovigilance, which were mere blips on the radar screen of most readers of the daily newspapers. In September 2004, Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), the manufacturer of the selective COX-2 inhibitor rofecoxib (Vioxx), voluntarily withdrew the drug from world markets. This action produced considerable anxiety among some of our patients with chronic pain, who had been taking rofecoxib regularly. With few exceptions, most patients had learnt from their doctors and from the Internet that the newer anti-inflammatory pain-modifiers, including rofecoxib and celecoxib, were apparently safer in terms of gastric mucosal injury, perforation of peptic ulcers, and bleeding.1-3 It is scant comfort to learn that other COX-2 inhibitors probably carry a similar pro-thrombotic risk.4

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