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Merck, Schering-Plough resolve Vytorin investigation

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

Merck and Schering-Plough will pay $5.4 million to 35 states and the District of Columbia to resolve an investigation into the firms' delayed release of negative study results for the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin. The agreement, which is not an admission of liability, covers the states' and D.C.'s investigative costs. The ENHANCE trial found Vytorin was no more effective in reducing plaque in carotid arteries than simvastin (1"The Tan Sheet" Feb. 4, 2008)

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The agency will review the recently completed study of the Merck/Schering-Plough combination cholesterol therapy Vytorin after it receives the final results, according to a Jan. 25 announcement. The study found "no statistically significant differences" between a group receiving the highest dose of Vytorin (10 mg ezetimibe plus 80 mg simvastatin) and a group receiving 80 mg simvastatin in either the primary endpoint or in key secondary imaging endpoints (1"The Tan Sheet" Jan. 21, 2008, p. 12). Investigators in the firms' ENHANCE trial determined the primary endpoint - mean change in the intima-media thickness - through ultrasound measurements of the carotid arteries. FDA said it is not clear why the lower levels of LDL cholesterol in patients who took Vytorin did not lead to lesser amounts of plaque, compared to patients treated with simvastatin alone...

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