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Cholesterol Drug Vytorin Data Delay Means More Heat for Merck

Filed March 26th, 2008 amy

Merck and Schering-Plough’s joint blockbuster cholesterol drug Vytorin, a combination of cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor and statin drug Zetia, has had critics scratching their heads since the beginning of this year — many since 2005. On January 14, 2008, results of the ENHANCE trial study were finally released, with data indicating that the Vytorin didn’t work any better reducing clogged arteries than a cheap generic statin by itself.

This week, the Wall Street Journal’s article publicized the debate a little bit further, now that the findings of the trial are being formally presented for the first time. Merck already has a dreadful reputation for suppressing data about its deadly painkiller Vioxx, and more recently the non-effectiveness of antidepressants. Anyone not seeing a trend? It’s really no big secret that drug companies are suppressing, or even altering, data to keep sales.

But as far as this latest scandal/study goes, it may not be until 2011 — when a larger study of 12,500 patients finishes comparing Vytorin against Zocor to prevent death and heart attacks in very high-risk patients — that any reliable data in favor of this “breakthrough” drug will be known.

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