Back in September, painkiller Vioxx was taken off the market, and now Bextra. With these two drugs off the market, there are few drugs to turn to, and now the FDA is putting stronger warning labels on common over the counter medications like Advil and Aleve.
“Sometimes we see patients who don't realize medications have side effects, and sometimes there’s an assumption that if a medicine’s over the counter it’s safe, and all medications have side effects."
Celebrex, another drug used to treat arthritis, will also carry a stronger warning label. The FDA says the drug can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. However, Celebrex isn't considered as dangerous as Bextra, which can cause a deadly skin infection.
So what should we take?
"There’s no clear cut answer, because if there was one best drug out there, there would only be that drug on the market."
Dr. Lipsky says he'll still recommend Celebrex for people suffering from stomach problems, but if you want to stick with over the counter meds, he says Tylenol may be your best option or combining medications.
"Combinations of medications to protect your stomach, along with some of the more traditional anti-inflammatory drugs that have higher risk. An example is a combination of Ibuprofen with Prilosec or Nexium."
If you've tried all these options and still find that Bextra was the best drug for you, there is some hope. The FDA is considering allowing patients to use Bextra on a compassionate use basis, meaning patients who file a petition with the FDA and are approved could still have access to the drug.