I debated about holding this until the end-of-day, Friday — or, posting on it, over the weekend — inasmuch as it breaks no real “new” ground on the Vytorin/Zetia v. other therapies questions. . . . but on the chance you haven’t already seen it, do go read this editorial, in full. ‘Tis very sober, balanced and still very troubling — here’s a snippet:
. . . .The risks and benefits of a best-selling anti-cholesterol drug remain thoroughly muddled despite a new analysis that purports to exonerate it from the worst safety concerns. For now, patients and doctors are best advised to use Vytorin only as a last resort when other treatments have failed. . . .
A huge marketing effort propelled Vytorin and Zetia to blockbuster status. Then the bad news started coming in. A small clinical trial indicated that while Vytorin reduced cholesterol levels, it failed to slow the growth of fatty plaques in the arteries. A second trial showed that Vytorin did not help people with heart-valve disease avoid further heart problems. Worse yet, that trial suggested that Vytorin increased the risk of developing and dying from cancer. . . .
The F.D.A. will conduct its own analysis of the cancer risks. The agency also needs to evaluate whether it should demand larger and more definitive clinical trials before approving certain drugs. Meanwhile, millions of people are still taking Vytorin and Zetia without knowing whether they are safe and clinically effective. . . .
By the way — here’s the Times‘ most-recent actual reportage on Vytorin/Zetia — from Monday, of this week — as a reference point.
Expect these sorts of articles and editorials to come into play at the Senate Health Care Reform Hearings, starting next Tuesday morning. We’ll cover ’em — wall to wall. Bank on it.