Vytorin’s Shortcoming a Boon for Statins
Disappointing Results of Vytorin Study Lead Doctors to Call for Return to Proven Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
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Vytorin Lowers LDL but Doesn’t Slow Plaque Buildup
It's not that Vytorin doesn't lower bad LDL cholesterol -- it does, by about 50 points in the study. It also reduced blood levels of a marker of inflammation known as C-reactive protein that's been implicated in heart disease.
What Vytorin didn't do is meet the study goal of reducing plaque buildup in the carotid arteries that run through both sides of the neck to the brain. And it hasn't been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death, although that was not a goal of this study.
In contrast, statins have proven benefit in improving patient outcomes, says past ACC president Steven E. Nissen, chairman of the department of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic.
"We know that they reduce risks," he tells WebMD.
‘Turn Back to Statins’
Speaking on behalf of the ACC panel, Harlan Krumholz, MD, a cardiologist at Yale University, says that the publication of the full results leave little room for debate: Vytorin should be used as a last resort.
"There is no new evidence to support use of [Vytorin]. People need to turn back to statins," he told the audience of cardiologists, drawing applause.
"We are all aware that with aggressive marketing, people used Zetia then Vytorin without exhausting the statin option. ... We believe that to get to a $5 billion drug, there was a lot of movement to premature use of [Zetia/Vytorin] before statin use was exhausted," he says.