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Doctors are being urged to cut their prescriptions of the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs Vytorin and Zetia in patients. A recent clinical study showed that Vytorin and Zetia were far more expensive yet far less effective than statin drugs. The study did not raise significant safety issues among patients treated with Vytorin, but did suggest that patients need not pay the higher cost for Vytorin because it is no more effective than the cheaper generic statin drugs.

Consumers have been duped and have been paying more for drugs that did not work as well as cheaper generics that they were already taken. Our firm is investigating potential consumer fraud claims on behalf of users of Vytorin and Zetia.

Vytorin is a combination of Zocor (manufactured by Merck) and Zetia (made by Schering-Plough). Vytorin and Zetia had more than a combined $5 billion in annual sales last year.

The study looked at whether Vytorin was better at reducing thickening of a neck artery than Zocor, an older statin drug that is readily available in generic form. The results found that showed neither drug affected the size of patients’ artery walls even though they cut LDL, or so-called “bad” cholesterol, levels after two years on treatment. It was expected that Vytorin would have shown a small reduction in the plaque build-up in the arteries of artery walls because it lowered LDL cholesterol levels almost 30% more than levels were cut among patients on Zocor alone.

Some lawmakers have accused the manufacturers of delaying the results of these studies because the companies knew the results would be negative and would hurt the sales of Vytorin and Zetia. Both drugs cost more than Zocor, which is now available as a generic drug. The companies have denied the accusations.

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