A clinical trial has determined that the cholesterol-lowering drugVytorin fails to help peoplewith heart disease AND increases their risk of cancer. Alex Berenson ofThe New York Timesreports:
The scientists who reported on the trial, called Seas, cautioned against panicking over the cancer findings, saying that even well-designed clinical trials sometimes produce chance results. A review of two other, much larger trials did not find a similar risk, they said.
Vytorin and Zetia, a companion drug, are prescribed each month to almost three million people worldwide and are among the world’s top-selling medicines.
But other cardiologists and epidemiologists said that the cancer risk could not be so easily dismissed.
The findings of the Seas trial will heighten concerns about Vytorin’s safety and effectiveness, said Dr. Steven Nissen, a former president of the American College of Cardiology and a longtime critic of Vytorin. Six months ago, a fourth clinical trial, called Enhance, also failed to show that Vytorin benefited patients, leading a panel of top cardiologists to recommend using Vytorin and Zetia only as a last resort.
Since that recommendation, Vytorin and Zetia prescriptions have plunged, though the drugs remain among the largest sellers for Merck and Schering- Plough, which jointly sell them. The drugs had combined sales of $5 billion last year.
These drugs have been sinking for months. Take a look: