Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cholesterol drug combination: Good news.

Ezetimibe plus simvastatin, a combination of two anti-cholesterol drugs marketed by Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals as Vytorin, is no more damaging to muscles than simvastatin alone, a team at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reports in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Ezetimibe reduces cholesterol levels by blocking dietary absorption, while simvastatin works by reducing cholesterol produced by the body.

Previous reports have linked "statin" drugs, like simvastatin, with muscle side effects, but it was unclear if adding ezetimibe would lead to even greater risks.

The authors found that the likelihood of muscle problems did not increase when ezetimibe was used in combination with simvastatin. Moreover, none of the patients developed rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal condition involving muscle breakdown.

This drug combination is especially effective in lowering cholesterol.

VYTORIN 10/40 mg decreased LDL cholesterol by 59 percent compared to 48 percent for Lipitor 40 mg in a 2004 study.

Significant differences in LDL cholesterol reductions, at all doses compared, resulted in more high risk patients achieving LDL cholesterol levels less than 70 mg/dL with VYTORIN as compared to Lipitor. In particular, 57 percent of high risk patients taking VYTORIN 10/40 mg achieved a LDL cholesterol goal of less than 70 mg/dL as compared with 23 percent of the patients (n=115) taking Lipitor 40 mg.

VYTORIN has continued to gain share in the U.S. market.

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