Monday, March 31, 2008

In the News: Medicine just gets more confusing

I can guess that some patients who paid (many times neglecting other needs) for these medicines are feeling a bit depression or despair. I often wonder what type of research and followup is done with many medicines. Hopefully not many patients suffered the side affects without the benefits - AThinker

On CNN today:

Trial: Popular cholesterol drug fails to improve heart disease

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Leading doctors urged a return to older, tried-and-true treatments for high cholesterol after hearing full results Sunday of a failed trial of Vytorin.

Millions of Americans already take the drug or one of its components, Zetia. But doctors were stunned to learn that Vytorin failed to improve heart disease even though it worked as intended to reduce three key risk factors.

"People need to turn back to statins," said Yale University cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, referring to Lipitor, Crestor and other widely used brands. "We know that statins are good drugs. We know that they reduce risks."

The study was closely watched because Zetia and Vytorin have racked up $5 billion in sales despite limited proof of benefit. Two Congressional panels launched probes into why it took drugmakers nearly two years after the study's completion to release results.

Results were presented at an American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago Sunday and published on the Internet by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Doctors have long focused on lowering LDL or bad cholesterol as a way to prevent heart disease. Statins like Merck & Co.'s Zocor, which recently came out in generic form, do this, as do niacin, fibrates and other medicines.