Congress Investigating Cholesterol-Fighting Drug Vytorin
A Congressional panel wants to know more about clinical trials of the blockbuster cholesterol-fighting drug Vytorin, which has been linked to increased risks of heart attack and stroke.
Vytorin, a product of Merck and Co. and Schering-Plough Corp., is a pill that combines the drugs Zetia and Zocor to lower â€œbadâ€ cholesterol. Studies have shown, however, that Vytorin can result in more heart-related deaths. Also, some studies have found Vytorin is no more effective than Zocor, a cheaper generic drug, when taken alone.
Earlier this year, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Cal.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Merck and Schering-Plough to provide additional documents for Vytorin clinical trials that are now underway. Waxman specifically asked about patient safety monitoring boards, which oversee the clinical trials.
The makers of Vytorin have been accused of hiding or delaying the release of unfavorable study results in order to gain Food and Drug Administration approvals. Merck and Schering-Plough recently agreed to pay $5.4 million to settle civil claims that the companies buried negative study results for Vytorin and another of the companiesâ€™ cholesterol-fighting drugs.
Vytorin is a top earner for the companies, having earned about $5 billion in sales in 2007.