A Revolution In Pain Relief?

A new class of breakthrough drugs is on the way

Larry E. Stahl had tried just about everything. The 52-year-old retired Chicago truck driver has suffered for years with osteoarthritis, barely able to get out of bed some mornings because of debilitating pain. He's sampled a host of prescription and over-the-counter painkillers but found little relief. Then, two years ago, Stahl signed up to participate in trials of a new painkiller from Merck & Co. The treatment eased the pain and stiffness without upsetting his stomach, as some other medicines had. "I was suffering," he recalls, "and this made a real difference."

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