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Yesterday it was announced that, once again, new highly-touted medications are not effective, and worse, may actually do more harm than good. Results from a study regarding Zetia and Vytorin were finally released after much delay and speculation. Much to the public’s chagrin, the reports are that Zetia and Vytorin may slightly reduce cholesterol, but they do not reduce plaque build-up in the arteries, and in some cases actually increase the production of plaque. This is not good news for the millions of people who are paying as much as $4 a day for these medications and who need pharmaceutical treatment of their life-threatening heart conditions.

Zetia and Vytorin are marketed as cholesterol-lowering medications by manufacturers Merck and Schering-Plough. Vytorin is a combination of generic Zocor and Zetia. Zetia and Vytorin are prescribed 100,000 times a day and together generate annual sales of $5 billion, with sales up 25% in the most recent quarter over the same period last year.

The study on these drugs was finished in April 2006, but the results were just now made public. There had been much speculation that the results were negative because of the long delay in publishing the data. The manufacturers are acknowledging that Vytorin and Zetia have never been shown to prevent heart attacks or other life-threatening events, in stark contrast to other cholesterol-lowering medications. The public should be outraged that ineffective drugs were allowed to be sold in the first place and should be additionally angry that the manufacturers held these results for so long, each day jeopardizing the health of those patients who have been prescribed Zetia and Vytorin. Knowing that the study showed an increase in the production of plaque in the arteries, the manufacturers should have acted sooner. As it is, Zetia and Vytorin are still being sold.

Cardiologists now have to decide the proper course of treatment for their patients in the wake of these negative results. Patients should never stop taking any prescription medications without the advice of their doctor, but patients taking Zetia and Vytorin should immediately contact their doctors to discuss this situation.

Zetia has been linked to other conditions, including blood disorders involving platelet production. Shipman & Wright, LLP has been investigating these claims on behalf of clients. Now additional investigation will be conducted to determine if patients have other legal claims to pursued.

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