Times: Another Drug Company Cover Up Endangers Health of Millions

Actually Vytorin treats neither.

It lowers cholesterol but provides no medical benefits. It treats nothing. And the advertisers have known this since 2006.

In the arena of unethical practices, the lowest form of behavior, in my opinion, is taking advantage of those who place their trust in you to help them guard their health and lives.

That trust has been violated by two major companies in the pharmaceutical industry according to today's Times.

The companies Merck and Schering-Plough have been concealing the negative results of their study of the cholesterol drugs Vytorin, Zetia and Zocor since April 2006.

Since that time they have been actively marketing and selling the drug with claims that are totally contrary to the test results.

I have no doubt that this activity is unethical and immoral. I leave it to others to judge whether it is criminal.

And I suspect this is the beginning of the unraveling of the great "cholesterol=coronary artery disease" pharmaceutical scam.
Cholesterol Drug Has No Benefit in Trial

A clinical trial of Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to about 1 million people a week, failed to show that the drug has any medical benefits, Merck and Schering-Plough said on Monday.

The results will add to the growing concern over Zetia and Vytorin, a drug that combines Zetia with another cholesterol medicine in a single pill. About 70 percent of patients who take Zetia do so in the form of Vytorin, which combines Zetia with the cholesterol drug Zocor.

While Zetia lowers cholesterol by 15 to 20 percent in most patients, no trial has ever shown that it can reduce heart attacks and strokes — or even that it reduces the growth of the fatty plaques in arteries that can cause heart problems.

This trial was designed to show that Zetia could reduce the growth of those plaques. Instead, the plaques actually grew somewhat faster in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone. Patients in the trial who took the combination of Zetia and Zocor were receiving it in the form of Vytorin pills.

Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the results were “shocking.” Patients should not be prescribed Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed, he said.

“This is as bad a result for the drug as anybody could have feared,” Dr. Nissen said. Millions of patients may be taking a drug that has no benefits for them, raising their risk of heart attacks and exposing them to potential side effects, he said.

Both companies’ stocks were down in mid-day trading in New York on Monday, with Merck’s share price off by 2.4 percent and Schering-Plough’s down nearly 6 percent.

The results will also add to the controversy surrounding a long delay in releasing the results of the trial, which was known as Enhance. Merck and Schering-Plough completed the trial in April 2006 and had initially planned to release the findings no later than March 2007. But the companies then missed several self-imposed deadlines, blaming the complexity of the data analysis from the study and saying they did not know when or if the data would be ready for publication.

Last month, after several news articles highlighted the delay, they finally agreed to release the results soon.

For Merck and Schering-Plough, which jointly market Zetia and Vytorin and share profits from the drugs, the trial’s results are a serious setback. Zetia and Vytorin are important contributors to both companies’ profits, especially to Schering, which is smaller and less profitable than Merck.

Analysts estimate that about 70 percent of Schering’s earnings depend on the drugs. The controversy over the trial is also a problem for Merck, which is trying to repair its reputation after withdrawing the painkiller Vioxx from the market in September 2004.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Surprise -- cholesterol may actually pose benefits, study shows"