In response to repeated legal threats, a public health doctor in Italy has withdrawn advice to curtail use of a controversial drug. The drug, ezetimibe, is a key ingredient in Zetia and Vytorin, which is manufactured by Merck. The cholesterol-lowering drug has been the subject of fierce controversy because it has never been shown to improve clinical outcomes. Despite the controversy, in 2013 the drugs had combined sales of more than $2.6 billion.
MSD Italy, the Italian arm of the company, sent two “cease and desist” letters to Alberto Donzelli, who is “the head of education, appropriateness, and evidence based medicine at the public health authority of Milan (Milan Healthcare),” according to The BMJ, which published a news report of the affair.
Click here to read the full post on Forbes.
Merck said today that it was recalling all lots of Liptruzet, its combination of the cholesterol-lowering drugs ezetimibe and atorvastatin, in the US. The company said the recall was due to a packaging defect which could potentially allow air and moisture to affect the quality of the drug, though the company said “the likelihood of the packaging defects decreasing the effectiveness of Liptruzet on a patient’s lipid profile or negatively impacting the safety of the product is remote.” To date there have been no adverse events or product complaints reported to the company.
Merck is recalling the drug from US wholesalers but is not asking patients or pharmacies to return their stock. The company said that patients may continue taking the pills already in their possession.
Today action will deplete the current supply of the drug in the US, the company said. The company said it will resupply the drug “as soon as possible.”
The FDA has approved a new combination drug from Merck for lowering cholesterol. The drug, which will carry the brand name of Liptruzet, is a combination of two previously approved cholesterol-lowering drugs, ezetimibe and atorvastatin.
Merck said the new drug (pronounced “LIP-true-zett”) would be commercially available starting next week. Liptruzet will be available as a once-daily tablet combining 10 mg of ezetimibe with either 10, 20, 40, or 80 mg of atorvastatin. In clinical trials Liptruzet lowered LDL cholesterol from 53% to 61%, depending on dosage.
Click here to read the full post on Forbes.
A combination tablet containing the cholesterol-lowering drugs ezetimibe and atorvastatin is back on the path to possible FDA approval, according to Merck, which already markets Zetia (ezetimibe) and Vytorin, the combination of ezetimibe and simvastatin. Merck has repeatedly stumbled in its efforts to gain FDA approval of the proposed new drug, which has been dubbed “Son of Vytorin.” The new drug application (NDA) submission was first rejected by the FDA in 2009 and, again, last year.
Merck said yesterday that the FDA had accepted Merck’s resubmission of its NDA, which included additional data provided by Merck in response to the FDA’s rejection of the application last year. Merck said it also planned to pursue approval of the drug in other countries.
Despite its potent cholesterol-lowering effects, the clinical benefits of ezetimibe have never been demonstrated, prompting furious debates about the proper role of surrogate endpoints. Last year the FDA rejected a new indication for Vytorin and Zetia (ezetimibe alone) in chronic kidney disease patients, as the independent effect of ezetimibe had not been assessed in SHARP, the pivotal study for the indication. Results of the IMPROVE-IT trial, expected this year, may finally resolve the question of whether ezetimibe is beneficial.
Click here to read the Merck press release…
The FDA has finally completed its review of ENHANCE that it started in January 2008. It’s finding: there was no difference in clinical outcome between the vytorin-treated and the simvastatin-treated patients in clinical outcomes, though vytorin, as expected, had greater efficacy in lowering cholesterol. The FDA advises patients that, pending the results of IMPROVE-IT, “patients should not stop taking Vytorin or other cholesterol lowering medications and should talk to their doctor if they have any questions about these medications.”
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone reading this blog, I suppose.
Click here to read the FDA statement.