BusinessWeek is now asking the question, “Do Cholesterol Drugs Do Any Good?” This is a terrific take on all the angles of cholesterol as big pharma’s cash cow. BusinessWeek does the math. While LDL does drop, “the number needed to treat (NNT) for one person to benefit is 100.” And that math is based upon “an industry-sponsored trial using carefully selected patients with multiple risk factors. In contrast, the only large clinical trial funded by the government, rather than companies, found no statistically significant benefit at all.”
In the article even Pfizer (PFE) doesn’t dispute “that the drugs do not reduce deaths or serious illness in those without heart disease.” Merck (MRK) and Schering Plough (SGP), the partners of Vytorin, are running full page newspaper ads defending it. Amongst all the side effects that may occur taking the drug, the ad states that “ZETIA has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks.” (Bolded emphasis by the advertiser. Vytorin is a combination of SGP’s Zetia and MRK’s Zocor.)
Dow Jones Newswire reported today that prescriptions for Vytorin in the week ending January 18, 2008 are down 9.5% from the prior week, according to Verispan. Clearly things are developing along the lines of my predictions about cholesterol drugs in general and particularly for Vytorin and Lipitor.
Mike Huckman Pharma’s Market Blog: “Congress Turns Up Heat On MRK & SGP Over Enhance Study” (Scroll further down for his previous post on “MRK, SGP Go On A Vytorin ‘Offensive’” which contains the Vytorin newspaper ad.)
Website of former astronaut and retired M.D. Duane Graveline , mentioned in separate BusinessWeek story.
Website of former astronaut and retired M.D. Duane Graveline