Times: Snake Oil Does Not Treat Disease Part II

We were a bit nervous about slamming the pharma companies yesterday for covering up the results of a scientific study of their drugs. Hey. Maybe they are really good folks, just a bit slow in publishing results of the study of their cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia.

Today we find that we did not go far enough. From the Times:
Dr. Steven E. Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the results were “shocking.”

“This is as bad a result for the drug as anybody could have feared,” said Dr. Nissen, a widely published researcher and senior consulting editor to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Millions of patients may be taking a drug that does not benefit them, raising their risk of heart attacks and exposing them to potential side effects, he said. Patients should not be given prescriptions for Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed, he said.
And another thing from the Times:
Dr. Harlan M. Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale, said drug companies had a responsibility to release all their trial findings, positive or negative, as quickly as possible — even if the results might hurt sales.

“People may have been on this drug without the ability to know that there was additional data that may have thrown into question its effectiveness,” Dr. Krumholz said. “That’s extremely unfortunate, and that’s an understatement.”
And one more point:
The Enhance trial was meant to prove that Vytorin’s combination of Zetia and Zocor would reduce the growth of fatty plaque in the arteries more than Zocor alone. Instead, the plaque actually grew almost twice as fast in patients taking the combination.

Reducing plaque growth is crucial, because plaque formation — known as atherosclerosis — can lead to the blockages and blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes, said Dr. Howard N. Hodis, a cardiologist at the University of Southern California. That is why the trial’s finding is worrisome, Dr. Hodis said.

“Clearly, progression of atherosclerosis is the only way you get events,” Dr. Hodis said. “If you don’t treat progression, then you get events.”

The results of the trial require further investigation, Dr. Hodis said. “That just can’t be ignored.”
Accordingly we conclude that these pharma executives are bad, bad people.

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