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Cholesterol Drugs Failed

March 31, 2008, 5:17 PM by Jaine Andrews

Cholesterol Drugs Failed
A new study claims two widely-prescribed drugs for lowering cholesterol may not be the best choice for patients. Now some drugs are getting another look and researchers say there could be better options. 

Some doctors are suggesting a return to older, tried-and-true cholesterol medications after a new study found that Vytorin and a related drug, Zetia, may not help prevent heart disease, even though they may reduce key risk factors. 

More bad news about the cholesterol lowering pill Vytorin has cardiologist Seth Uretsky hearing from worried patients. 

Dr. Seth Uretsky with St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital says, "It's completely understandable that patients would be nervous, I mean if I was a patient and I saw these news reports I also would be nervous." 

Vytorin is a combination of two drugs - Zetia and Zocor. It's often used in hard to treat patients. The latest study showed Vytorin lowered LDL or bad cholesterol. However, it failed to reduce plaque deposits in the arteries that can lead to heart attack and stroke. 

Dr. Steven Nissen with Cleveland Clinic's cardiology department says, "There was no evidence in this trial of harm, it's simply the fact that there was no evidence of benefit." 

We first started hearing about problems with Vytorin two months ago when preliminary results of this study came out. Now some experts are urging doctors to return to tried and true treatments for cholesterol like statins. 

Lynn Goddess is taking a statin now after her doctor pulled her off a component of the Vytorin combo. 

She says, "You have trust your doctor." 

However, many doctors say Vytorin is still right for patients who don't respond to statins. 

Uretsky says, "Vytorin does lower LDL cholesterol below what a statin would alone." 

Still Vytorin's problems are not over. This latest study was completed nearly two years ago and Congress is investigating why it took so long for the drugmakers to release the results. 

Vytorin and Zetia are among the top-selling drugs in the world, with combined sales of 5-billion dollars last year alone.

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