Harvard Heart Letter

Trial fails to enhance cholesterol drug's reputation

Vytorin comes under fire after trial shows it works no better than a statin.

The media firestorm that torched the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin in January 2008 showed just how hot the topic of new drugs is today. Trial results showing that the FDA-approved drug was no better than a generic statin at keeping artery-clogging plaque in check had some commentators calling for a moratorium on the use of the drug. Headlines such as "Cholesterol drug bombs" and "Vytorin May Increase Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke" prompted thousands of worried Vytorin takers to call their doctors.

The less-than-promising results may bear a message for stockholders of Merck and Schering-Plough, the companies that make Vytorin. But exactly what they mean for people with high cholesterol is a bit murky.

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