Anti-inflammatory Drug Dangers: Doctors recommend recall of popular drug

by John McKiggan

Researchers have requested that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac be taken off shelves due to increased heart risks.

The drug, is sold under many brand names including Cataflam, Voltaren and Voltarol, and is only available by prescription in Canada and the United States.

Diclofenac is sold over-the-counter in many other countries including the U.K., Australia and Japan.

Diclofenac is typically used to treat mild to moderate chronic pain treat from headaches, arthritis and dental procedures. It is supposedly most effective when there is inflammation present.

Cardiac risks

However, several recent studies have shown that Diclofenac increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The effects of the drug cause an imbalance in prostaglandins which increases the risk of blood clotting.

Researcher and clinical pharmacologist, Dr. David Henry, is quoted as saying:

“…this is a drug that has about the same risk of causing heart attacks as a drug called Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the market eight years ago because of this adverse effect.”

Vioxx, which is the brand name for Rofecoxib, was also an anti-inflammatory which was taken off of the market in 2004 due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients. Vioxx has faced numerous lawsuits and class actions as a result of thousands of cases of injury or death attributed to use of the drug.

Two other anti-inflammatory medications, Celebrex and Bextra, were taken off the market in 2005 for the same reasons.

The U.S. National Institute of Health listing for Diclofenac contains an “IMPORTANT WARNING” that states:

“People who take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (other than aspirin) such as diclofenac may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than people who do not take these medications.”

What should you do?

If you are taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication of any kind, you should discuss any concerns with your family doctor. Your doctor needs to be aware if you have any history of heart problems or stroke in your family that may put you at increased risk.

Bottom line: It is always better for your health care professionals to have more information than less information and whenever you have a question or concern, ask your doctor!

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