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    Monday, August 30, 2004

    Vioxx and Hearts: What to make of the news last week that Vioxx causes heart attacks? Hard to say. The study was released in France, at a conference. The only figures available are those from press releases, so it's impossible to evaluate the claims that Vioxx users had three times the risk of heart disease as Celebrex users. (Three times what? 0.1 or 10?)

    It's also impossible to inspect the data for confounding variables. Was there something about the Vioxx users that was different than the Celebrex users? Were they heavier, more likely to smoke, older? The fact that they were all on twice the normal dose of Vioxx suggests that perhaps they had arthritis pain that was not responding to traditional doses or therapies. With all of the recent evidence pointing to the role of inflammation in coronary artery disease, might the inflammation from their arthrititis be playing a role?

    Too early to tell. But full disclosure of the data would be extremely helpful.
     

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