Bextra (valdecoxib) Warning, New Side Effects

Last Editorial Review: 4/7/2005

NOTE: April 7, 2005, Pfizer agreed to suspend sales and marketing of Bextra in the U.S., pending further discussions with the with the FDA. For more information, please read the FDA press release.

November 13, 2002 -- FDA and Pharmacia are advising health care professionals about new warnings and information in the product labeling of the drug Bextra (valdecoxib), a drug approved for treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain). The labeling is being updated with new warnings following postmarketing reports of serious adverse effects including life-threatening risks related to skin reactions -- including Stevens Johnson Syndrome, and anaphylactoid reactions (serious allergic reactions). In addition, the labeling will state that the drug is contraindicated -- not to be used -- in patients allergic to sulfa containing products.

On November 13, 2002, Pharmacia, the manufacturer of Bextra sent letters to health care professionals advising them of postmarketing reports and new warnings that will be included in the drug label. Since the firm began marketing the drug in March of 2002, cases of the serious skin and hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. These included cases of Stevens Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, exfoliative dermatitis and erythema multiforme. Although these adverse events are rare, some of these patients required hospitalization. Based on these reports, FDA has approved labeling changes for Bextra that include a warning for serious skin reactions. As these reactions can be life threatening, people who start Bextra and experience a rash should contact their doctor and discontinue the drug immediately.

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Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the US Food and Drug Administration (

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