Thursday, August 28, 2008
Article in Forbes -- Another Storm Brewing For Vytorin, by Matthew Herper. Here's an excerpt:
When a study linking the widely used cholesterol drug Vytorin to cancer came out in July it caused a stir--for a few hours.
It should have lasted longer. A 1,873-patient study called SEAS found there were 50% more cancers among patients who took Vytorin than those who received placebo. Researchers involved in the study put together a hastily organized, company-funded press conference on July 21 to release the data.
There, Richard Peto, an Oxford University statistician, quieted the cancer scare before it really began. He pooled data from two much larger ongoing studies of Vytorin and said they showed that the cancer risk was a statistical fluke. He called the contention that Vytorin could cause cancer "bizarre." Deutsche Bank pharmaceuticals analyst Barbara Ryan says the impact of SEAS on Vytorin sales has been "negligible."
Shares of Vytorin makers Merck and Schering-Plough are still down 6% and 9%, respectively, since SEAS was released. The companies say the cancer finding is "an anomaly."
Next week, the full results of SEAS will be presented at a medical meeting in Munich, and, if some of world's top cardiologists, drug safety experts and statisticians are to be believed, the stage is set for yet another battle over Vytorin, which is already being haunted by worries over its effectiveness.