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Vytorin- Disappointing Results in Helping Heart Disease

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 31, 2008 12:21 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Heart Disease, Statins, Vytorin, Cholesterol, Dangerous Drugs

Doctors suggest skip the Vytorin after studies show it doesn't work in helping heart disease.

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IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ Cholesterol/ Author: RedAndr

Vytorin. 

You’ve seen the ads for the heart disease drug with family members who look like high cholesterol food and may be to blame for your genetic pre-disposition for high cholesterol.

“Cholesterol. It can come from fettucine alfredo but also your Uncle Alfredo.”

Now leading doctors are urging users to return to older medications to treat cholesterol after hearing about the trials on the drug that were a failure.

Millions of Americans take Vytorin. It and one of its components, Zetia racked up $5 billion in sales.

The drugs are made by Merck and Schering-Plough, which issued a statement by vice president of the Schering-Plough Research Institute, “We feel that nothing’s changed” said Dr. Rick Veltri. 

The drug trials shows that Vytorin failed to improve heart disease.  It did reduce three key risk factors.

Doctors say statins such as Lipitor, simvastin, the generic version of Zocor, the vitamin niacin should be used before trying Vytorin and Zetia.

The results were presented to the American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  

Two Congressional panels have looked into why it took the drug makers two years to release the study results after they were completed.

Vytorin was approved in 2004.  It works on cholesterol by combining Zocor (Merck) with Schering-Plough’s Zetia which went on sale in 2002.

The study tested whether Vytorin was better than Zocor alone.

Among the 720 patients, Vytorin has no result for reducing plaque.  Vytorin did lower LDL, fats in the blood cells or triglycerides and artery inflammation or CRP.

Another follow-up study hopes to enroll 18,000 people for definitive results, but that won’t be completed until 2012.

The advertising has been effective though.  In the NEJM report, a $200 million advertising blitz brought profits to drug makers, whereas in Canada where direct marketing to consumers is forbidden, sales were four times lower. #


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