1. Common painkillers boost heart attack risk

    There's never a great time to take a painkiller -- but there's one time in particular you really want to play "keep away" with these risky meds.

    And that's after a heart attack.

    According to a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, some of the world's most commonly used painkillers -- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- can dramatically boost the odds of a second heart attack or even death within days of taking them.

    Danish researchers looked at data on 83,677 heart attack patients, 42.3 percent of whom had been given NSAIDs. Overall, they found that heart attack survivors given NSAIDs were 45 percent more likely to have a second attack or die inside of a single week.

    And within 90 days, the risk increased by 55 percent.

    But as deadly as NSAIDs can be, they don't top the "most dangerous" list. That honor goes to a popular generic arthritis med called diclofenac. Taking this drug after experiencing a heart attack can TRIPLE your odds of death or a second heart attack.

    If you want to protect your heart and reduce the inflammation behind everything from pain to disease, stock up on cod liver oil or a quality omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

    And whether you're recovering from a heart attack or a stubbed toe, save the painkillers for only real, severe pain.

  2. Merck's comeuppance continues

    Merck's comeuppance continues

    Reporting on others' woes and misery never gives me pleasure. But reporting on the continuing woes of a pharmaceutical company ALWAYS warms my heart. That pleasure is tempered only by the fact that more often than not, it takes the pain of real people to put drug makers to any sort of pain themselves.

    And such is the bittersweet case today. On the one hand, I'm loathe to report that yet again, some unwitting subjects in a drug trial have been given a hard time of it by yet another Merck medication

    On the other hand, though, I have the almost gleeful privilege of reporting to you that beleaguered Pharma giant Merck - the very folks that brought us Vioxx, the arthritis drug that killed or maimed as many as 140,000 Americans - is in hot water again. This time, it's over the drug that's supposed to be taking Vioxx's place in Merck's stable of poisons, I mean, medications.

    The problem is that this drug ALSO poses a deadly danger to people's tickers.

    The drug, called Arcoxia, was the subject of a safety study involving nearly 35,000 subjects. The findings of that research were that this medication poses as much cardiovascular risk - if not more - than a decades-old NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) called diclofenac. The heart travails associated with diclofenac are well known and documented.

    That's right - Merck's supposed REPLACEMENT for a killer drug they loosed upon the world is seemingly cut from the same cloth! The study's data revealed that not only does Arcoxia carry similar levels of heart attack risk as its older cousin, it also creates more edema (fluid retention), higher blood pressure, and a higher incident of heart failure

    Currently, Merck faces more than 23,000 lawsuits for Vioxx's heart-related liabilities. The drug was pulled off pharmacy shelves in September of 2004. But only after being on the market and killing innocent Americans for more than 5 years after the FDA approved it as "safe" for public consumption.

    Vioxx's would-be replacement is approved for use in 62 countries worldwide, and it earned Merck over $210 million last year alone. Based on the study's findings, the FDA has requested more information from about Arcoxia from its maker before granting approval for it here in the U.S.

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