The FDA warning last week on the cardiovascular effects of non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has prompted healthcare experts to advise caution when using these drugs on a regular basis.
The FDA warning last week on the cardiovascular (CV) effects of non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Motrin IB, Aleve, and Celebrex, has prompted a debate among healthcare experts: how do we regulate the pill popping phenomenon that has emerged, even for minor aches and pains?
While current labels for both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription NSAIDs indicate heart risks, the FDA said in its announcement that prescription NSAIDs would need a drug label update to reflect the following:
Although the risk of a heart attack or stroke from NSAID use does not match up with the risks associated with smoking or obesity, it does exist. Peter Wilson, MD, from Emory University in Atlanta who was on the FDA panel last year that evaluated the more recent evidence, said in an interview that while these drugs are widely viewed as benign “they are probably not,” adding that OTC NSAIDs may increase the risk by 10%, low-dose prescription NSAIDs by about 20%, and high-dose prescriptions NSAIDs by about 50%.
However, a lot of variables are yet to be determined, such as safety of one product over another, safe dose or duration of treatment, etc. The lack of additional and more definitive information has prompted experts to recommend that people should weigh the risk-to-benefit with these medications and that the new warnings might encourage pain management without drugs or divert attention to treating the underlying cause of the pain. According to Bruce Lambert, director of the Center for Communication and Health at Northwestern University, “For people who are in the habit of taking these drugs for headaches or mild pain, they might want to reconsider.”