31 March 2008

Let Me Tell You Why Vytorin Was So Popular (Even Though It Doesn't Lower Heart Disease)

This is one of the biggest problems in medicine today and why some class-action lawsuits are justified.  Working as a nurse in both the military and civilian health systems, I saw drug company representatives often.  Very often.  They schmoozed and courted doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.  They always had a ton of goodies (pens, pencils, calculators, clocks, notepaper, keychains, books, calendars, etc...) along with sponsoring "teaching seminars".  These educational opportunities were full lunches and dinners little more than live infomercials for whatever the drug-of-the-moment was.

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.

Not surprisingly, this medicine would frequently be added to the formulary soon after.  The military system had to put a draconian ethic system in place because the problem spiraled out of control.  Every new drug to hit the market was making its way into the military treatment facilities, no matter what it cost.  Even after these new rules were in place, it was a long time before pharmacists and doctors started having trouble working around the restrictions.  One pharmacist I knew made sure the drug reps knew exactly how much they could spend per person without running afoul of the regulations... this was down to the penny.  It was ten times worse in the civilian hospitals I worked.

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.

I'm all for tort-reform but people need to remember why it became popular in the first place.

"It will be 2012 — ten years after the drug was introduced — before we know the answer," said Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist who has no role in the studies and has criticized the drugmakers over the one reported Sunday.


Posted by: Stashiu3 at 10:29:11 | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 Elevated serum cholesterol has a high correlation with increased risk of heart disease, but lowering that level has no correlation with decreasing that risk.  "Correlation does not imply causation" appears to be a concept lost to most people, including doctors.

Posted by: Paddy O'Furnijur at 01 April 2008@01:48:28 (DyUi6)

2 Trust me, it was the cool stuff more than anything.

Posted by: Stashiu3 at 01 April 2008@12:57:57 (tarqT)

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