Celebrex is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that works by reducing hormones which cause inflammation in the body. It is used to treat arthritis, ankylosing and spondylitis, along with hereditary polyps in the colon. Celebrex has also been prescribed to treat pain resulting from menstrual cramps. In 2006, Pfizer (the manufacturer of Celebrex) expected the sales of the drug to exceed $2 billion.

The FDA approved Celebrex in 2008 to treat arthritis pain. It experienced a boost in sales when Vioxx (a similar drug) was removed from the market. Not long after, trial results showed that Celebrex may carry the same risks that Vioxx had. The study suggested that this class of drug elevates the risk of cardiovascular problems. In a study of 48,000 patients, it was found that 0.52 percent of patients who took the placebo experienced a heart attack, while 0.80% of patients taking Celebrex experienced a heart attack. In a reanalysis of an earlier study, done by researchers in New Zealand, it was found that Celebrex could nearly double the risk of heart attack in patients. This analysis looked at 12,780 patients using Celebrex and was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

Celebrex is in the same class of drugs as Vioxx and Bextra, both of which have been removed from the market.

Serious side effects include:

  • Chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance
  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • Coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Swelling or rapid weight gain
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Skin rash, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness
  • Severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Less serious Celebrex side effects may include:

  • Upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, gas
  • Dizziness, nervousness, headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose, sore throat
  • Mild skin rash
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