Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest nonprofit managed-care provider, has stopped prescribing Bextra amid "compelling" evidence of heightened heart risks. Pfizer Inc.'s Bextra is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used primarily to treat arthritis pain. Bextra is a Cox-2 inhibitor similar to Vioxx, which Merck & Co. withdrew from the market in September when studies showed that Vioxx doubled the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Kaiser's decision to ban Bextra prescriptions until tests determine whether it is safe is the first time the health system's doctors have stopped dispensing a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA required a warning on Bextra's label in December and plans to convene an advisory panel in February to review the safety of Cox-2 inhibitors including Bextra.