Monday, January 14, 2008

Newer Isn't Better - Cholesterol Medication Not Effective

A report found that Merck's cholesterol lowering medication, Zetia, did not show any benefits.

While this report was surprising, it illustrates an important fact. Newer medications aren't necessarily better than previous therapies. The active ingredient in Zetia, which is also found in Vytorin, lowers cholesterol, but the released clinical trial showed that it didn't slow the clogging of arteries. This is why clinical trials need to be done to prove therapies are effective. While one can assume that lowering cholesterol can improve clogging of arteries, one needs to have proof.

If you go to the ZETIA website, there is the following disclaimer.

  • Unlike some statins, ZETIA has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks.
So, when your doctor prescribes you a medication, particularly if it is one that has been heavily marketed, ask him the following.
  • Why this particular medication?
  • Is this one proven to save lives (i.e. lowering cholesterol isn't as important as preventing heart attacks).
  • Are there others that are less expensive and proven?
Try not to ask your doctor about medications that you saw on television. Research shows that doctors more often than not will prescribe it for you.

Caveat emptor
- Let the buyer beware.

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