Injury Guide to the Dangers of Celebrex

The prescription drug Celebrex, designed to relieve arthritis pain by lessening stress on the stomach lining, generated more than three billion dollars in sales for its manufacturer, Pfizer, in 2004. In December of that year, Pfizer stopped advertising the drug after Merck stopped selling a similar drug, Vioxx, when it was linked to heart dangers. Because the drugs were similar, and Celebrex had also been linked to heart problems, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required Pfizer to add a black box warning about the risks of taking the drug (1). However, heart problems are not the only danger for to those taking Celebrex.

Heart Attack

Studies have shown that Celebrex users have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and some studies have found that the risk is similar to that of a smoker or diabetic. Despite this evidence, patients continued to use Celebrex as the manufacturer has argued  the risk was no greater than that of other NSAID pain relievers, such as naproxen. However, a recent study by the Institute of Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of Pennsylvania has found that the drug removes an enzyme from the blood that prevents it from clotting, thereby increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke (2).

Liver and Kidney Disease

Although rare, Celebrex has been linked to instances of liver and kidney disease. In many cases, evidence of liver problems is discovered through abnormal liver function results after testing. Some patients have reported to doctors or hospitals with jaundice, and some have been diagnosed with hepatitis and liver failure after taking Celebrex. Kidney problems have included increased blood creatinine , and a few patients have developed complete kidney failure after taking the drug (3).

Gastrointestinal Problems

One of the main reasons that doctors preferred prescribing Celebrex to patients over other NSAID pain relievers was that it was believed to be easier on the stomach. However, recent reports indicate that the drug is no easier on the stomach than other pain relievers, which block an enzyme designed to protect stomach lining. Although Celebrex does not remove as much of the enzyme as others, patients have suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding and perforation after taking the drug (4).

There is even a question regarding whether Celebrex is actually effective in reducing pain, potentially making these possible injuries an unnecessary risk.