Is Vytorin risky? Just for the patients

Wouldn’t it be great if all doctors treated their patients like members of their own family? In Delthia Ricks’ story in Newsday, Dr. David Brown in Stony Brook, N.Y. didn’t hesitate to take his mom off Vytorin after the drug makers released the negative results of their clinical trial earlier this week.

So, what about all the other people in the medical community who are coming forward telling people not to get too excited about the study results?

It seems some doctors are rushing in to do damage control for Merck and Schering-Plough, the makers of Vytorin (which is a combination of Zetia, a Schering-Plough drug and Zocor, a Merck drug).

Here’s what Dr. Michael Weber, board chairman for the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, says on the group’s blog, Drug Wonks:

The study with Vytorin looked only at surrogate endpoints, not morbidity and mortality. The ongoing clinical outcomes trials will answer the questions definitively. We must hope that the alarmist comments by certain opinion leaders quoted in the lay press will not compromise the integrity of these critical studies by intimidating the patients who have been enrolled.

I suppose if this study had been done by some group with an agenda, maybe I’d be more skeptical of the results. But this test was done by researchers funded by the companies that make the drug. Do you think they’re going to go out of their way to skew the results?

Keep in mind, as well, that Vytorin should never have been approved in the first place. The Food and Drug Administration’s own scientists recommended against approval because tests showed “serious toxicity in laboratory animals, regardless of how small of an amount of this combination drug was used,” according to Public Citizen’s Dr. Sidney Wolfe.

Vytorin? I’ll pass.

Read Wolfe’s statement.