Study Reveals Disappointing Results from Popular Cholesterol Drug

January 18, 2008 03:05 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Jan. 14, Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. reported eagerly anticipated, but disappointing, results from a cholesterol-lowering drug study that was completed in 2006.

30-Second Summary

The companies had expected the study, called Enhance, to show that Vytorin, a combination of Zetia and Zocor, cleared plaque from arteries better than Zocor alone. 

The study consisted of 720 patients and lasted for two-years. It found that Vytorin does not clear away plaque more effectively than Zocor alone. 

In some cases, patients taking Vytorin had higher plaque accumulation in arteries; however, this could be due to chance or error considering the small sample size.

According to Matthew Herper of Forbes, the companies changed the main goal of their two-year study in November 2007, a year and nine months after it had been completed.

This change is considered out of the ordinary as goals are defined before a study and not changed after a study has been completed.

The change was the catalyst for a congressional investigation into the delay of the results.

Since the results were released, the two companies have seen their stock prices fall.

Five million people use Zetia and Vytorin worldwide, according to The New York Times. Approximately one million prescriptions are written for the drugs each week, and in 2007, their combined sales reached $5 billion. 

Headline Links: Study raises concerns about cholesterol drug

The bottom line

Background: Vioxx and the FDA

Opinions: Should patients use Zetia and Vytorin?


Reference Material: Good and bad cholesterol, types of cholesterol-lowering drugs and the Merck study


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines