Questions Raised About Cholesterol Drug

Monday, March 31st 2008, 10:39 pm
By: News On 6

There are new findings about the popular cholesterol drug Vytorin.  The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports new research shows the prescription doesn't work as well as expected and that has patients wondering what to do.

More bad news about the cholesterol lowering pill Vytorin has cardiologist Seth Uretsky hearing from worried patients.

"It's completely understandable that patients would be nervous, I mean if I was a patient and I saw these news reports I also would be nervous," said Dr. Seth Uretsky.

Vytorin is a combination of two drugs:  Zetia and Zocor.  And, it is often used in hard to treat patients.  The latest study showed Vytorin lowered LDL or bad cholesterol; however, it failed to reduce plaque deposits in the arteries that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

"There was no evidence in this trial of harm.  It's simply the fact that there was no evidence of benefit," said Dr. Steven Nissen with Cleveland Clinic Cardiology.

We first started hearing about problems with Vytorin two months ago when preliminary results of the study came out.  Now some experts are urging doctors to return to tried and true treatments for cholesterol like statins.

However, many doctors say Vytorin is still right for patients who don't respond to statins.

"Vytorin does lower LDL cholesterol below what a statin would alone," said Dr. Seth Uretsky with St. Luke's-Roosevelt.

Still Vytorin's problems are not over.  The latest study was completed nearly two years ago, and Congress is investigating why it took so long for the drug makers to release the results.