TRENTON, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that patients should not stop taking Vytorin or other cholesterol-lowering drugs, based on its just-completed review of a controversial study that hammered Vytorin sales.
A statement issued by the regulatory agency said it was sticking to its original position that medicines that reduce bad cholesterol benefit patients at risk of heart attack, stroke or sudden death.
For the last year, many experts have instead been saying -- based on results of the study of cholesterol drugs sold by Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. -- that reducing cholesterol levels isn't enough to reduce those risks if there's no evidence the medicines control plaque buildup in arteries.
Vytorin, a combination pill, is sold by a joint venture of Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and Schering-Plough, based in Kenilworth, N.J. It contains Schering-Plough's Zetia, which reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food, and Merck's former blockbuster Zocor, which lowers the amount of cholesterol produced by the body based on one's genes.