Study Raises New Questions About Merck Pill Zetia

Two cholesterol drugs still taken by millions of Americans are the subject of concern for a second time, according to a new study.

In the study involving about 360 people, Zetia failed to shrink buildups in artery walls while a rival drug, Niaspan, did so significantly.

Ultrasound images of neck arteries showed that Niaspan shrank buildups by about 2 percent, while Zetia had no effect on this even though it lowered bad cholesterol as expected. The results were published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Last year, a large study suggested that the combo pill Vytorin, which combines Zetia with a statin, was no more effective than Zocor alone, a statin now available as a cheap generic.

Niaspan is a slow-release version of niacin, a type of B vitamin. Both Zetia and Vytorin are sold by Merck & Co. Niaspan is made by Abbott Laboratories, which sponsored the latest study.

Merck says it stands behind its drugs, which accounted for billions in sales last year.


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  • by Medea Location: Greenville on Nov 17, 2009 at 10:56 PM
    The media has been on Merck's back for a while. I'm not sure why but it's becoming obvious someone has a bone to pick. Merck is a great company that cares for it's customers.
  • by Nana Location: New Bern on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:35 AM
    I take Zetia and have no side effects from it. However, I was given Niaspan to take and after being on it for awhile I had an allergic reaction as I am one of those who doesn't react to medicine right away. Niaspan made me itch all over. I'm also allergic to Crestor and Norvasc. It depends on the person whether or not you can take it. Medicines are not a one of a kind fix for everyone. Some people have no reactions while others do. In this case, it makes me wonder what medicine I can actually take without any problems -- allergic or not.
  • by Ann Location: Greenville on Nov 16, 2009 at 09:10 AM
    I am a senior citizen and have taken Zetia since it first came on the market for cholesterol. It, however, it not intended to "shrink buildup in the artery walls" as the study claims. Abbott Laboratories and comparing drugs that are intended for different purposes so naturally Abbott's product will get higher results by their own survey. Zetia does do what it is intended to do.
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