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Painkillers Linked to Stroke Risk

December 21, 2004

Aleve a popular over-the-counter painkiller has been added to the list linking several nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to heart attack and stroke.

The move comes just a week after concerns surfaced about another popular pain reliever, the prescription drug Celebrex. Celebrex manufacturer Pfizer, Inc. voluntarily suspended advertising on the drug four days ago in compliance with an FDA request.

In September, the prescription painkiller Vioxx, which is in the same class as Celebrex, was taken off the market by its manufacturer also because of concerns of heart attack and stroke risk.

The naproxen drugs have generally been considered some of the safest of the anti-inflammatory painkillers, and many doctors have recommended them to their patients who had been taking Vioxx. In an interview Tuesday on NBC's Today Show, FDA acting commissioner Lester Crawford acknowledged that the new information on Aleve and Celebrex is confusing. He said any drug taken for a prolonged period or at very high doses can cause problems. "It would be premature to say what we are going to do with either one of these drugs, Celebrex or Aleve," he notes.

The study suspended Monday, was sponsored by the National Institue on Aging to determine if regular use of either Aleve or Celebrex could help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
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