Data from a recent study shows that people taking the popular cholesterol-reducing heart medication, Vytorin, are 33 to 70 percent more likely to develop—and die from—cancer.
The study, called SEAS, was initially launched to examine the effectiveness of Vytorin to prevent severe, age-related heart valve problems. During the course of the study researchers unexpectedly stumbled upon Vytorin’s link to cancer.
Vytorin and its sister-drug, Zetia, are widely prescribed medications in the US, raking in over $4 billion a year for Merck and Schering-Plough.
A statement by Merck and Schering-Plough acknowledged that the medications did seem to come with a higher risk of cancer, but added that the discovery was “an anomaly that, taken in light of all of the data, doesn’t support an association with Vytorin.”
The problem with that statement is that current ongoing studies, such as IMPROVE-IT and SHARP, are investigating the Vytorin-cancer link, and what they’re finding does not look good for anyone who has been taking Vytorin.
[Source: “Heart drug’s safety scrutinized” USA Today Weekend Edition, 7/25/08]