Editor's note: The anti-inflammatory drug rofecoxib (Vioxx) was withdrawn from the market at the end of September 2004 after it was shown that long-term use (greater than 18 months) could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Further information is available at www.vioxx.com.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease of the joints, characterised by joint pain, stiffness and loss of physical function. Its onset is age-related and occurs usually between the ages of 50 and 60. It is the commonest cause of disability in those aged over 65, with OA of the knee and/or hip affecting over 20 per cent of the elderly population.