Merck and Schering-Plough, makers of Zetia, announced that the drug had failed to benefit patients in a two-year trial that ended in April 2006. In a press release, Merck and Schering said that not only did Zetia fail to slow the accumulation of fatty plaque in the arteries, it actually seemed to contribute to plaque formation — although by such a small amount that the finding could have been a result of chance.
Dr. Steven E. Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, said the results were “shocking.” “This is as bad a result for the drug as anybody could have feared,” said Dr. Nissen, a widely published researcher and senior consulting editor to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Millions of patients may be taking a drug that does not benefit them, raising their risk of heart attacks and exposing them to potential side effects, he said. Patients should not be given prescriptions for Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed, he said.
Source: Study Reveals Doubt on Drug for Cholesterol (NY Times, January 15, 2008)