Health Highlights: May 6, 2013
Pfizer Offers Viagra Online; FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill; Veterans at Higher Risk for Traffic Crashes
Men will still need a prescription to buy the erectile dysfunction drug on viagra.com but won't have to deal with a pharmacist, the Associated Press reported.
Pfizer's decision to sell Viagra online is an attempt to counter Internet pharmacies that sell counterfeit versions of the drug for a much cheaper price and with no prescription needed.
Counterfeit versions of many other brand-name drugs are also sold online and other major drug companies will be keeping close tabs on Pfizer's strategy, the AP reported.
FDA Criticized for OK'ing Combo Cholesterol Pill
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recent approval of a new cholesterol-lowering pill called Liptruzet "just doesn't make any sense," an expert says.
Merck's new drug combines the generically available ingredient (atorvastatin) in Pfizer's Lipitor with Merck's Zetia (ezetimibe). While Zetia does lower "bad" LDL cholesterol linked with heart attacks and strokes, it is no more effective than drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor, or simvastatin, according to Forbes.com.
Unlike those other medicines, there is no evidence that Zetia prevents heart attacks or strokes, and there is no proof that Liptruzet prevents heart attacks, strokes or other cardiovascular events better than atorvastatin alone, according to Forbes.com.
A 2008 study failed to show that the combination of Zetia and simvastatin prevented artery hardening better than simvastatin alone.
A large study comparing the Zetia/simvastatin combination to simvastatin alone for preventing heart attacks, strokes and deaths is not due to be completed until late 2014 and many experts expected that the FDA would not consider approval of Liptruzet until the study was completed, Forbes.com reported.
Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic and a longtime critic of Zetia, blasted the FDA's approval of Liptruzet.
"I find it astonishing that after all the controversy about ezetimibe the FDA would approve another combination product with a drug that has been on the market for a decade and has not been shown to improve cardiovascular outcomes," he told Forbes.com.
"It seems like the agency is just tone deaf to the concerns raised by many members of the community about approving drugs with surrogate endpoints like cholesterol without evidence of a benefit for the disease we are truly trying to treat -- cardiovascular disease," he said.