The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug for treating osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a progressive deterioration in the cartilage of certain joints. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inherited autoimmune disease, osteoarthritis results from overuse of joints, and can be a byproduct of strenuous sports, obesity or aging.
Pharmacia Corp. makes the drug, Bextra (valdecoxib), while drug giant Pfizer Inc. is helping to promote it. Bextra is a member of a class of anti-inflammatory drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors, which work by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase 2.
These drugs are believed to sidestep the stomach-irritating effects of other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin. The drug would also be indicated for treating rheumatoid arthritis and menstrual pain. The exact launch date and price per dose has yet to be determined.