CLEVELAND, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The Cleveland Clinic plans a 20,000 patient clinical trial to study the risks to the heart from arthritis drugs, following the withdrawal of Merck's Vioxx.
The four-year study, set to begin next year, will compare three painkillers commonly used by arthritis patients who have cardiovascular disease or who are at high risk of heart problems, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The drugs are Pfizer Inc.'s Celebrex, and prescription-strength doses of over-the-counter tablets ibuprofen and naproxen.
The Food and Drug Administration requires strong warning labels for a range of painkillers, saying consumers face increased cardiovascular risk.
The Cleveland study may answer critics who say some past studies weren't definitive.
"The public and the medical community are confused," said Steven E. Nissen, who will be the lead investigator of the new study. "The relative safety of these three drugs is simply not known. We're going to answer the question are they the same or are they not."