Concerns about Zetia and Vytorin side effects are raised by data which suggests the drugs have limited benefits
According to a study released yesterday, the risk of Zetia and Vytorin side effects could outweigh the potential benefits for many users. Data from a clinical trial indicates that the cholesterol drugs do not provide any medical benefits for users when compared with high doses of generic Zocor, and they could possibly expose them to an increased risk of heart attacks and liver failure.
Zetia and Vytorin are popular drugs prescribed for treatment of high cholesterol. About 1 million people receive one of the drugs each week. Zetia, which is manufactured by Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp., works by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive track. Vytorin is a combination drug made by the same companies, which contains both Zetia and Zocor. Approximately 60 percent of those who take Zetia receive it as part of the Vytorin combination drug.
The study, known as Enhance, found that Zetia and Vytorin side effects caused fatty plaques which develop in arteries to build nearly twice as fast when compared with individuals who received Zocor alone. The clinical trial followed about 720 individuals with very high cholesterol for two years. Users of Vytorin and Zetia were found to be more likely to die or suffer cardiac complications according to the data, but given the limited nature of the trial, the results did not reach the level of statistical significance. This means that the differences could have been caused by chance. Larger studies are needed to better evaluate the nature of the risk.
An article last month in the New York Times also raised concerns that Zetia and Vytorin side effects may increase the risk of liver failure and drug-induced hepaititis when taken in combination with statin cholesterol drugs. Speculation about the Zetia liver damage risk were raised after a spokesmen for the drug makers acknowledged that several patients were removed from the Enhance study after testing indicated that they had elevated liver enzymes.
Statins, which include drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor and Zocor, are often prescribed with Zetia or as part of the Vytorin pill, which combines Zetia and Zocor. According to the New York Times, there have been several reports of severe liver damage associated with the use of Zetia and statins, and the combination has been shown to cause liver damage in animals.
The results of the Enhance study were described as “shocking” by Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, who authored a study earlier this year about the risk of Avandia heart attack side effects. Dr. Nissen was also one of the first doctors to raise questions about Vioxx, which was recalled in 2004.
Dr. Nisson suggested that Zetia and Vytorin should not be prescribed unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed to work, as the drug has no benefits and may expose individuals to an increased risk of heart attacks. The FDA has not yet commented on the data, but no decisions should be made about whether to stop taking a drug without first consulting with a your physician.
The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are closely reviewing information about the potential Zetia and Vytorin side effects, and whether adequate information has been provided about the risks and benefits of the drugs. If you, a friend or family member have suffered a heart attack or liver failure after taking Zetia or Vytorin, you can review the legal options which may be available by requesting a free consultation.