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Questions about Vioxx

Associated Press

If I've been taking Vioxx, do I face a higher risk of heart problems in the future?

Answer: "The answer to that is almost certainly 'no.' The drug's effects disappear very quickly," so stopping it should reverse risk, according to Dr. Alastair Wood, professor of medicine and pharmacology, and associate dean of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

What about children? Some take it for juvenile arthritis.

No safety problems have been seen in children, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but Vioxx is being withdrawn from the market for everybody.

Is it safe to stop taking Vioxx suddenly or should people go off the drug slowly?

Medical experts advise patients to stop taking Vioxx and consult their doctor about alternatives. Health Canada said patients should consult their doctors as to whether they should continue taking their remaining supply of the medication.

What made Vioxx so good for treating the pain of arthritis?

Many pain relievers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, work against two enzymes, cox-1 and cox-2, which cause inflammation and pain. Cox-1 is found in the stomach, and drugs that attack it often cause upset stomachs and ulcers. Vioxx and other so-called cox-2 inhibitors attack just that enzyme, minimizing stomach side effects.

Are other cox-2 inhibitors safe?

All drugs of this type can raise blood pressure, but only Vioxx has been linked to higher risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, FDA officials say.

Besides arthritis, what else is Vioxx used to treat?

Other chronic pain conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, and short-term needs such as postoperative pain relief and menstrual cramps.

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