Naproxen fourth painkiller linked to heart riskA new NIH study has found an increased risk for cardiovascular problems in patients taking the painkiller naproxen, sold over-the-counter by Bayer under the Aleve brand name.
The findings make Aleve the fourth pain medicine in recent months to be linked to heart risk and they come just a few days after Pfizer reported that a study showed an increased risk for cardiovascular events in people taking high doses of Celebrex.
The most recent study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, was conducted to determine whether Aleve and Pfizer's Celebrex might prevent Alzheimer's disease.
Approximately 2,500 patients were given one of the two drugs or placebo and followed for three years. Those taking Aleve had a 50 percent greater rate of heart problems than those given placebo. Celebrex users saw no jump in heart-related events. However, the use of Celebrex and naproxen were suspended in the study.
The FDA said in a statement that it recommends consumers limit naproxen use to the amount suggested on the label, 220 milligrams twice-a-day, and not take Aleve for longer than 10 days unless advised by a doctor to do so.
Pfizer, on Dec. 17, reported the findings of a study that found a link between Celebrex and cardiovascular complications.
Merck withdrew its painkiller Vioxx from the market in September after finding the drug increased the risk of heart attack and stroke in some patients by more than 100 percent. Pfizer also recently announced findings that its pain indication Bextra increased the risk of heart attacks in patients who have had cardiac surgery.