Generic: Ezetimibe and Simvastatin
Date approved: July 23, 2004
Status: Prescription only
Approved uses: Approved for the treatment of dyslipidemia, a disruption in the amount of lipids in the blood.
Off-Label uses: Has a possible off-label ability to eliminate blood vessel inflammation often associated with being the cause of high BP
• Rhabdomyolysis – serious muscle damage linked to Simvastatin, an ingredient in Vytorin
• Myopathy – Muscle Toxicity
• Liver Damage
Common Misspellings: Vitorin, Vitoran, vitoryn, vitoran, vyotrin
Vytorin, which is a combination of two drugs: ezetimibe (marketed as Zetia in the United States) and the statin drug simvastatin (marketed as Zocor). Vytorin is prescribed for the treatment of dyslipidemia, which occurs when the amount of lipids in the bloodstream is disrupted. In the U.S., this usually involves an elevation of lipids due to diet or lifestyle. The Zocor in Vytorin is designed to combat the disease by blocking an enzyme in the blood that enables the body’s production of cholesterol, while the Zetia is meant to reduce the amount of cholesterol that the body absorbs from food.
However, an extensive study completed in mid 2006, and released in January 2008 has shown that taking Vytorin had no benefit on the buildup of artery plaque when compared with patients taking only Zocor. This finding is significant, as Vytorin is three times more expensive than the generic version of Zocor (simvastatin). The manufacturer has disputed the study’s findings, but within weeks of the study’s release a class action lawsuit has already been filed against Merck and Schering-Plough. The Vytorin lawsuit alleges that the companies have known since 2006 that their drug was no more effective than the cheaper generic Zocor, despite leading consumers to believe the opposite.
Merck Agrees to Pay $41.5 Million in Vytorin Class Action Lawsuit
The makers of the popular cholesterol drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, have agreed to pay $41.5 million in a Vytorin class action lawsuit. Merck and Schering-Plough were accused of withholding unfavorable study results about the pharmaceutical blockbusters, Vytorin and Zetia, which showed that the drugs were not as effective at unclogging arteries as other less expensive alternatives. The study – completed almost two years prior to the release date – is one of several recent studies that has questioned the effectiveness of the drugs.
Merck and Schering-Plough released a statement stating the settlement was reached in order to avoid mounting legal costs. Neither company has acknowledged wrong doing or liability, and have continued to defended the drugs’ efficiency and safety. Both companies have been held responsible in the lawsuit due to their recent merge in November 2009.
The Downfall of a Pharmaceutical Giant?
Several studies in the last two years have shown that a Niacin, a prescription of a common B vitamin, is far better at unclogging arteries than ezetimibe, the active ingredient in Zetia and Vytorin, at a substantially cheaper cost to the consumer. This comes as quite a blow to Vytorin, which combined with the sales of its sister drug Zetia, has raked in an astonishing $21 billion worldwide since 2003, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration has been questioned about whether they prematurely approved the drugs without researching the drugs’ effectiveness or ability to prevent heart attacks. Merck waited three years after the drugs’ FDA approval before conducting a research study to examine the effect on heart attack rates among Zetia and Vytorin patients.
Further studies will be conducted to examine the effectiveness of the drugs, including heart attack prevention; however results are not expected to be available until at least 2012. Leading cardiologists have advised patients to use cholesterol drugs like Zetia and Vytorin as a last resort, only if his or her cholesterol levels have not improved with other medications and/or life-style changes.
Do You Need Legal Advice Concerning Vytorin?
Oftentimes, patients pursue a Vytorin lawsuit to seek monetary compensation to cover medical treatments due to cardiovascular complications. If you or a loved one has questions regarding a potential Vytorin Law suit, you may contact one of our experienced Vytorin Law firms. A Vytorin Lawyer can provide you with updates on Vytorin Side Effects, Vytorin-Cancer links or a possible Vytorin Recall. Contact a Vytorin Attorney using the form at the top of the page.
Three Studies Report Possible Vytorin-cancer Link
Three separate studies of the cholesterol-lowering combination drug Vytorin have reported results that show a possible connection between the drug and the development of cancer. Initial concern arose when Dr. Terje Pedersen reported his preliminary results from a study completely independent of a search for a Vytorin-cancer link. Dr. Pedersen’s research was concerned with testing if Vytorin could prevent damage to the heart’s aortic valve from worsening. Dr. Pedersen found that while the drug did not change the outcome of patients experiencing heart attacks, strokes, or surgeries related to the aortic valve in question, the number of cancer development cases in those taking Vytorin were greater than those patients taking the placebo.
Dr Pedersen’s research followed 1,873 patients who had developed problems with their aortic valve. Patients were either given Vytorin or a placebo in order to lower their cholesterol. This was done with the idea that this would prevent future heart-related problems from developing in the patients. Initially, the study found that 93 of the patients given Vytorin developed cancer, whereas 65 of those on the placebo developed cancer.
This development alarmed other researchers. Other studies taking place at the same time as Dr. Pedersen’s began looking to see if their data reflected the same findings as his. Alarmingly, while their research did not find a higher incidence of cancer cases, they found a higher number of cancer deaths in those patients taking Vytorin over the placebo.
The final result of Dr. Pedersen’s study found that in the patients given Vytorin, 105 developed cancer, as opposed to 70 patients who were given the placebo. These results combined with the two other studies of Vytorin found that cancer related deaths in all three studies were higher.
The Medical Community Responds
But these results did not seem to phase some members of the medical community. Dr. Douglas Weaver, president of the American College of Cardiology, was quoted as saying, �If I was on this medication and it was the only way to get my cholesterol down, I would not change my therapy based on this.� Dr. Weaver’s remarks are interesting, considering his connection to big drug companies; the U.S. Senate has demanded that his organization accounts for the money it accepts from major pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Merck, the maker of Vytorin.
While there is no conclusive empirical evidence that Vytorin is directly related to the increased numbers of cancer instances and related deaths, there is no denying that there is evidence that suggests that such findings are true. In fact, some researchers are convinced that Vytorin on the whole is an unnecessarily risky medication. Dr. Christer Hoglund, a cardiologist at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has said, �There’s no proof that this combination is working,� referring to the combination of drugs in Vytorin.
In the meantime, the federal Food and Drug Administration is investigating the possible connection between Vytorin and increased cancer occurrences. It has said that patients should not stop taking Vytorin until there is conclusive evidence.
Do You Need Legal Advice Concerning Vytorin?
If you have any questions regarding a potential Vytorin Lawsuit, you may contact one of our experienced Vytorin Lawfirms. They can provide you with updates on Vytorin Side Effects, Vytorin-Cancer links, or a possible Vytorin Recall. Contact a Vytorin Attorney using the form at the top of the page.