Better pain relief

Arthritis patients who have problems with the side effects of current drugs were offered new hope this week, as two new treatments were announced by different companies. Health Canada has approved “Celebrex” for both acute and chronic use in the relief of the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in adults.

Celebrex received priority review from Health Canada and will be available by prescription in Canada by April 27, 1999. Since its introduction in the United States in January, Celebrex has become one of the fastest selling new drugs in history.

Clinical trials showed the drug as comparable to the maximum prescription-strength Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) naproxen and ibuprofen in treating arthritis pain and inflammation. The new drug’s extra benefit is that produces significantly fewer upper gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers than traditional arthritis medications.

Rofecoxib, a Canadian-discovered drug for the treatment of arthritis, is currently under a fast-track review process by Health Canada. Both new drugs are in class called COX-2 inhibitors, which target the enzyme that plays a role in arthritis pain and inflammion. Their key benefit is that they provide relief without blocking the COX-1 enzyme that protects the gastrointestinal system.