FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Vytorin Marketing is Back

For a trip down memory lane visit the Dorothy Hamill page on Organizedwisdom.com.

You’ll be told that despite osteoarthritis, the Olympic gold medalist skates “five days a week for up to three hours,” thanks to Vioxx–and can even “continue touring with the show Champions on Ice!”

“Take Vioxx exactly as directed by your doctor,” adds the site and, unblinkingly, “It was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004.”

For another health redux visit modelinia.com where you’ll be told super model Lauren Hutton was “the first television advocate for Hormone Replacement Therapy, the postmenopausal preventive treatment for osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, and Alzheimer’s.”

It’s a good thing for the drug industry that Americans have short memories and forget things like Vioxx quadrupling heart attacks and Hormone Replacement Therapy increasing them by twenty-three percent.

And, speaking of forgetting, that hormone therapy doesn’t “prevent” Alzheimer’s but increases cognitive decline in women and shrinks brains.

How else would Merck and Schering-Plough have the audacity to bring back the “two sources of cholesterol” campaign less than two years after their Vytorin marketing drew lawsuits from state attorneys general and a Congressional intervention?

And even as Merck and Schering-Plough, now in the process of merging, agree this month to pay $41.5 million to settle lawsuits with consumers and health plans who accused them of burying Vytorin’s clinical trials?

After agreeing last month to pay $5.4 million to 35 US states and the District of Columbia to reimburse investigations into Vytorin related “violations of consumer-protection laws”?

Heavily advertised until 2008, Vytorin was supposed to solve both your food and family “sources of cholesterol.” Ads saturated the air waves, pun intended, with a split photograph of eggs, ham and other cholesterol-dripping foods and an older person who can eat them now thanks to taa-taa, Vytorin.

Except that the glutton-out-and-pay-no-price promise wasn’t true.

Results of the 750-patient Enhance study found Vytorin had no effect on the buildup of plaque in the arteries which is believed to correlate with heart attack and stroke.

Consumers, health plans, attorney generals and law makers were livid. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked the General Accounting Office to investigate why the FDA would approve a drug to reduce artery-clogging plaque that doesn’t reduce artery-clogging plaque.

Congressmen Bart Stupak (D-MI) and John Dingell (D-MI) wanted to know why Schering-Plough executive VP Carrie Smith Cox unloaded $28 million of stock between the end of the study and release of its results, earning her the moniker the Martha Stewart of Pharma. Schering-Plough had just paid $31 million to Missouri for bilking Medicaid with a different drug months earlier. Who can say incorrigible?

It wasn’t so much that Vytorin was no better than the generic simvastatin–which cost pennies–in reducing plaque and therefore heisted private and public health insurance dollars.

It wasn’t that patients and doctors thought they were buying health protection against future heart attack and stroke when they weren’t.

The reason for the outrage was the fact that Merck and Schering-Plough sat on the damning Enhance study for two years while the money rolled in. They were struggling, so they said, to “analyze” the data.

Which part of the word lemon didn’t they understand?

Even drug salespeople on Cafepharma were buzzing about what a bust the study was.

Needless to say sales of Vytorin tanked after the clinical bellyflop. Especially because only months later a new, second Vytorin study which tested effectiveness in aortic stenosis showed Vytorin increased the chances of getting and dying from cancer.

When the study results were integrated with two others trials, the FDA said Vytorin only increased the risk of dying of cancer not getting it, and sounded an all-clear.

But the New England Journal of Medicine didn’t and, in a Sept. 2008 editorial, maintained a cancer risk could not be discounted. Now the Vytorin campaign is back like nothing happened–thank you regulators–though Merck and Schering-Plough have agreed to adhere to new guidelines in their “direct-to-consumer TV ads” and clinical trials.

Both kinds of deception.

MARTHA ROSENBERG can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail