Celebrex (Celecoxib) is a COX-2 nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) developed by Pfizer, Inc., which is used to treat symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, acute pain, and primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramping).
In some patients, the use of NSAIDs is associated with serious problems from stomach ulcers, including bleeding. NSAID medications are also associated with liver damage in some patients.
Controversy over this class of drugs increased following the recall of Vioxx, another NSAID, and its withdrawal from the market.
Some of the biggest historic complaints about Celebrex relate not to its safety, but to its relative cost-effectiveness. Some argue that the drugs in this class are overprescribed for treatment of pain that could be managed at least as well with older, less costly medications. Further. unlike Vioxx, Celebrex is not associated with a reduction in the incidence of gastric ulcers.
Concerns over Celebrex were been increased by the results of a recent National Cancer Institute study on the prevention of certain types of cancer. Patients in the clinical trial taking 400 to 800 milligrams of Celebrex had a significantly increased risk of heart attacks, as compared to patients receiving a placebo. Those doses, administered over a 32 month period, significantly exceed the amount which would typically be prescribed for pain management.
Pfizer responded by insisting that Celebrex can be safely prescribed, and it remains on the market.