Health

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Cholesterol Drug Vytorin a ‘Last Resort’

March 31, 2008 05:39 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A long-term Vytorin study shows that, although it lowers bad cholesterol levels, the widely used drug has no impact on heart disease rates.

30-Second Summary

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Congress plans to investigate why two prescription drugs that made $5 billion in sales have been found to be ineffective at preventing heart disease. Though Vytorin helps reduce three risk factors of heart disease, as it is designed to do, the drug “failed to improve heart disease” rates, according to the AP.

Schering-Plough, which together with Merck & Co. manufacture and market Vytorin, said the study was conducted on people with an unusual condition that predisposes them to high levels of “bad” cholesterol. The results might show that only so much can be done to prevent heart disease for people in that situation.

Bloggers picked up on the story and raised a number of points. An unnamed nurse says the study gives people who are prescribed the expensive medication an opening to try another, less expensive drug.

Another blogger, known as Mudslide, criticizes the media for calling the drug “wildly successful” even in the context of the new study.

Vytorin is a combination of Zetia and Zocor, and it functions by stopping the small intestine from absorbing cholesterol into the body. Statins are an older group of drugs that keep the liver from producing cholesterol.

Headline Link: ‘Popular Cholesterol Drug Fails to Improve Heart Disease’

Reaction: Merck and the bloggers

Reference: Cholesterol-lowering medications

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