Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The results of 2 largestudies show that thearthritis drug Celebrex dramaticallylowered the riskof colon cancer in patientsprone to the disease.Although a drug could preventcolon cancer, the researchers cautionedthat problems with side effects,such as increased risks of heart attacksand strokes, need consideration beforethe approach could become routine.

A 3-year clinical trial that comparedCelebrex with sugar pills showed thatthe development of colon tumors wasreduced by as much as 45%. All of thepatients had had polyps of the colonremoved previously. Of the participants,61% receiving sugar pills developedcolon tumors, compared with16% on a high dose of Celebrex, reportedMonica Bertagnolli, MD, a leader ofone of the trials.

In Dr. Bertagnolli's study, 679 patientsreceived placebo. Approximately 685patients took 400 mg of Celebrex dailywhile 671 received 800 mg daily. Theresults of the trial indicated that patientstaking the placebo had a 1% risk of seriouscardiovascular problems over the 3-year trial. The rate of such side effectsincreased to 2.5% in patients on 400 mgof Celebrex and 3.5% on the 800-mgdose. She said that an analysis of thepatients in the study showed that thosewith serious cardiovascular health problemshad higher rates of problems inboth the placebo and the Celebrexgroups.

Although preliminary, the analysispointed to the chance that patients athigher risk for heart problems could beidentified ahead of time.The research waspresented recently at the AmericanAssociation for Cancer Research meeting.