Pfizer may bring back Bextra

The New London Day reports that Pfizer is in discussions with the FDA to bring back the COX-2 drug Bextra, which was recently withdrawn due to safety concerns.

As I’ve written before, the pharmaceutical companies made a big mistake by promoting COX-2 inhibitors to the widest possible customer base. As a result, some people who could have been treated with an occasional Tylenol or nothing at all ended up sick or dead. Once the FDA was caught asleep at the switch, they overreacted and Vioxx and Bextra were withdrawn. Now no one can get the drugs –even people for whom the benefits outweigh the risks.

In a statement yesterday Pfizer said, “Pfizer continues to believe that Bextra could be an important treatment option for certain patient populations.” If they’d been this conservative about their marketing initially –focusing only on “certain patient populations”– they could have avoided a lot of trouble. Let’s hope brand managers of other drugs take notice.

May 11, 2005

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