Pfizer Inc., maker of the arthritis painkiller Celebrex, has acknowledged that a 1999 study found Alzheimer's patients using Celebrex to be up to four times more likely to exhibit cardiovascular risk factors than those taking a placebo. In response, the consumer group Public Citizen has renewed it efforts to convince the government to ban Celebrex as well as Bextra, Pfizer's other Cox-2 inhibitor drug. Another drug in that family was Vioxx, which Merck & Co. withdrew from the market in September after studies showed it doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke.
The Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) has suggested that doctors consider prescribing alternatives, but as yet, Celebrex and Bextra remain on the market. The FDA will hold a hearing this month on the safety of Cox-2 inhibitors.