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Criticism upset FDA, doctor says

WASHINGTON -- A federal drug safety adviser said yesterday the government rescinded his invitation to participate in a February meeting on the risk of Vioxx and other arthritis drugs because he had publicly expressed doubts about the medications.

An analysis by Dr. Curt Furberg, a professor of public health at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, showed a doubling of risk of heart attack and stroke among heart disease patients taking Bextra. At this week's American Heart Association annual meeting, Furberg was quoted as saying, "Basically, we showed that Bextra is no different than Vioxx, and Pfizer is trying to suppress that information."

On Thursday morning, an official called Furberg to say he was no longer welcome at the meeting.

The Food and Drug Administration's deputy director of the office of new drugs said it is "very very common" for advisers to be excluded due to conflict-of-interest concerns. Pfizer dismissed Furberg's study as "unsubstantiated conclusions."

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