Monday, January 14, 2008

don't be a dope

Ezetimibe, trade name Zetia

Think BigPharma is your friend? Think again. Word today that one of the leading cholesterol medications simply doesn't work to reduce the risks of heart disease. Is this a problem? Only if you consider that 5 million people are taking the drug worldwide.

The drug is Zetia, which inhibits the adsorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract and is commonly prescribed in conjunction with other kinds of cholesterol lowering medications.

Cholesterol medications are huge business for BigPharma. The following is from a Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals (the makers of Zetia) press release dated June 6, 2007.

"The cholesterol-management market is one of the largest worldwide, with total global sales of $34 billion and sales in the United States of $22 billion in 2006."

And this from an earlier Schering-Plough press release.

"Since its introduction in November, 2002 more than six million prescriptions for ZETIA have been filled in the U.S. and it is one of the fastest growing products in the lipid lowering market."

There are 2 problems here. While initial research showed that LDL cholesterol levels were reduced when Zetia was used in conjunction with other types of cholesterol medications (statins), research conducted over 2 years ago showed that the drug had no effect on reducing the incidence of heart disease, which is the reason to take the drug in the first place. More telling, more damaging, and downright evil was the fact that while Schering-Plough was busy telling it's shareholders what a wonderful drug Zetia is (it constitutes a significant percent of the company's sales), they were also busy withholding publication of research findings that showed the product didn't work and opening up new markets, such as Japan, in which to sell their dopey drugs.

If you're a user of Zetia, now might be a good time to STOP and if you're a Merck or Shering-Plough shareholder, now would be a good time to SELL.

No comments: