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Monday Business | BRIEFLY / PHARMACEUTICALS

September 07, 1998|Bloomberg News

Merck & Co., the world's biggest drug maker, said its experimental painkiller Vioxx can help arthritis patients more comfortably walk several blocks, climb stairs and carry groceries. Merck presented findings of a study of the drug at the 11th European League Against Rheumatism conference in Geneva. Rival drug maker Monsanto Co. could be the first to start sales of this new kind of painkiller with the expected 1999 introduction of its drug, Celebra. The new painkillers are expected to become the next blockbusters, with combines sales of $1.5 billion by 2000. People with arthritis now depend on painkillers that can cause stomach bleeding, which kills 7,600 and sends 76,000 people to the hospital each year. The new drugs might eliminate the side effect. Merck expects to file later this year for Food and Drug Administration approval of Vioxx. The FDA already has received Monsanto's application and said it will give Celebra a faster-than-usual review.

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