Drug manufacturer Merck, the company that was forced to pull Vioxx off the market four years ago, has yet another problem. Monday Merck's stock took a huge tumble again. This time, because experts at a heart conference in Chicago announced that another Merck drug, Vytorin, is no better than a generic that costs one-fifth as much. The same claims were also made against Zetia, which is manufactured by Shering-Plough.
Steven Nissen, M.D., a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic says, "People were assuming that drugs that lowered cholesterol to the same extent would produce comparable benefits. Well they didn't. At least they don't appear to. And until we have evidence to the contrary we want physicians to stick with what we know works."
Merck responded by reminding doctors that Vytorin and Zetia are safe and effective against bad cholesterol, or LDL.
The bottom line, according to the latest science, Vytorin and Zetia do work, but no better than cheaper statins like Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor - but they do protect your heart.
Trials to determine whether Vytorin and Zetia prevent heart attacks and strokes won't be determined for another four years. Researchers emphasize that people who have been taking Vytorin and its component, Zetia, should not stop - but you should talk to your doctor, because experts say while there's nothing wrong with the drug, it may not help as much as other medications.