Michelle Schoffro Cook
July 4 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first generic version of Celebrex (celecoxib), a potent and potentially lethal pain-killer. Celebrex was the lone survivor of the “big three” pain drugs (including Vioxx and Bextra) in the cox-2-inhibitor family of medicines prescribed for pain conditions like arthritis. The health dangers of Vioxx and Bextra resulted in their removal from the market in the mid-2000s but it remains a mystery why Celebrex escaped a similar fate.
Perhaps the willingness of its maker, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, to openly declare, “Important Information: Celebrex may increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke that can lead to death” as part of its advertising helped to keep it in the marketplace when its competition disappeared. But how could the company, medical doctors, the government and even patients continue to support this product in this face of overwhelming evidence of its danger?