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Help the World Get a Grip on Arthritis During Arthritis Awareness Month

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, and we’re asking you to join us in our fight against the world’s most prevalent disease.

Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States, affecting one in every four adults, nearly 300,000 children and countless families and loved ones. The physical pain it causes can make everyday tasks difficult if not impossible. Perhaps worst of all, arthritis steals quality of life, preventing people from doing the things they love, like favorite hobbies or activities and even simple pleasures like picking up their child.

That’s why we’ve launched our Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis campaign. CVS Health®, the campaign’s Presenting Partner, is working with us to help Americans get a grip on arthritis. Shop at CVS Pharmacy® before May 31 and they’ll donate $1 back to the Arthritis Foundation with the purchase of select products, up to a maximum of $300,000.

Together, we want more people to know about the struggles people with arthritis encounter and the daily challenges they must overcome. And that’s where you come in.

Tell us your story and how hard it might be for your friends or family to understand what it’s like to live with this “invisible” disease. Even if you aren’t among the 54 million Americans with arthritis, you know someone who is – maybe your child, spouse, parent or other loved ones.

Share your unique story and what kind of obstacles you’ve faced. Help us spread awareness and shine a light on the realities of life with arthritis – and share inspiration with others to let them know they’re not alone.

After sharing your story, be sure to share our cause – and make a donation.

Together, we’ll raise awareness and fund research for better treatments and a cure, as well as provide tools and resources that empower those with arthritis to pursue what they love.

Support Our Partners

In recognition of Arthritis Awareness Month, CVS Health®, Presenting Partner of the Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis campaign, is donating $1 to the Arthritis Foundation for each select brands sold at CVS Pharmacy®, up to a maximum of $300,000. Products include Blue-Emu Maximum Arthritis Pain Relief Cream, Advil Liqui-Gels, Biofreeze Cold Therapy Pain Relief, Dr. Scholl’s Arthritis Pain Shock Guard, Tylenol Arthritis Pain Tablets, Tiger Balm Ultra Strength Ointment and more. Help support our partners!

celebrex safety label

FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Softening “Celebrex” Safety Labeling

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel concluded that prescription pain medication celecoxib (Celebrex), marketed by Pfizer, is as safe as other common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when it comes to cardiovascular (CV) risks. The panel recommended updating the medicine’s safety labeling to reflect that.

Celecoxib is a selective COX-2 inhibitor, which means it blocks production of an enzyme associated with inflammation. “Nonselective” NSAIDs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, block both COX-1 and COX-2; by blocking COX-1, they give rise to gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. Celecoxib is often prescribed to patients with osteoarthritis (OA) or an inflammatory type of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), especially those who are at higher risk of GI side effects.

But its cardiovascular safety profile has been under a cloud of suspicion for more than a decade, after two other COX-2 inhibitors were pulled from the U.S. market. Rofecoxib (Vioxx) was removed in 2004 and valdecoxib (Bextra) in 2005 over concerns they raised the risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, to unacceptable levels. (All NSAIDs increase the risk of cardiovascular side effects; risks rise with the dose and length of time used.)

Celecoxib was allowed to remain on the market; however, the wording on the label was strengthened to say it had increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. The FDA ordered Pfizer to conduct a post-market study of its safety.

That study, called PRECISION (Prospective Randomized Evaluation of Celecoxib Integrated Safety vs. Ibuprofen or Naproxen), compared cardiovascular outcomes of prescription doses of celecoxib, naproxen and ibuprofen in more than 24,000 patients with both arthritis and established cardiovascular disease or risk factors. It found rates of cardiovascular side effects were lowest with celecoxib (2.3 percent) compared to naproxen (2.5 percent) or ibuprofen (2.7 percent). (Critics of PRECISION say there were numerous problems with the study, including the facts that more than half of the participants had stopped taking their assigned drug by the end of the study, the allowed doses of the medications were not truly equivalent, and the use of low-dose aspirin, which could throw off the results, was not considered.)

After reviewing results of the study, the FDA Arthritis Advisory Committee and Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee voted in a joint meeting in late April, by a vote of 15 to 5 (with one abstention), in favor of updating the safety labeling on Celebrex to reflect this data.

An FDA spokesperson says the matter is pending before the agency, adding that the committee “provided FDA with important perspectives on the topics discussed. FDA cannot speculate about any outcomes from the advisory committee meeting, including the timing of any possible changes.”

The FDA doesn’t have to follow the recommendations of its advisory committees, but it generally does.

A spokesperson for Pfizer, Inc., which had applied for the update, welcomed the vote. “The PRECISION study helped dispel misperceptions about the cardiovascular risk associated with long-term use of Celebrex. In fact, the totality of evidence supports the use of Celebrex to manage pain and inflammation in people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis who also have or are at high risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Milton Pressler, MD, vice president and head of clinical affairs for Pfizer.

But Donald Miller, PharmD, professor of pharmacy practice at North Dakota State University, in Fargo, cautions that the dosages in the study may be lower than those that some patients take. The PRECISION trial compared 100 to 200 mg twice a day of celecoxib, 600 to 800 mg three times a day of ibuprofen, and 375 to 500 mg twice a day of naproxen.

“The cardiovascular risk with all NSAIDs is dose-related,” says Miller. “The big issue with the PRECISION study is they only allowed a dose of 200 mg of Celebrex, but it can also be used as a 400 mg dose [200 mg twice daily].”

If you have concerns, discuss your dosage with your doctor, Miller says.

The findings probably will not change how celecoxib is prescribed, he adds, in part because the PRECISION study results were published a year and a half ago.

“From a labeling point of view, this is probably important for Pfizer because it makes the medication less scary,” Miller says. “But rheumatologists are already familiar with this data because the findings of this study were published 18 months ago. So, this decision probably won’t have much effect on practice.”

Author: Jennifer Davis for the Arthritis Foundation

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let's get a grip on arthritis

Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis

So More People Can Do What They Love

If you have arthritis, you know full well what it’s like. The physical pain that makes everyday tasks difficult if not impossible. The emotional distress and feelings of isolation. The money it drains from your family budget.

But many of those who don’t have arthritis don’t have a clue. They don’t know that:

  • Arthritis is the world’s most prevalent disease. In the United States alone, 54 million adults – one in four – have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. And as many as 91 million Americans may truly be affected, according to a recent study.
  • Arthritis isn’t just an “elderly disease.” Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children.
  • While it may not be as life-threatening as cancer or heart disease, arthritis accounts for 100 million doctor visits and nearly 7 million hospitalizations each year. It can damage vital organs and make other conditions worse.
  • Arthritis is to blame for the loss of 172 million workdays each year and costs the U.S. economy more than $300 billion annually in lost wages and medical expenses.

Continue reading Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis