Important Information for Patients: New Cholesterol Drug Findings and Recommendations - Adventist HealthCare

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News Release

Media Contact: Tom Grant

Published on April 01, 2008

Important Information for Patients: New Cholesterol Drug Findings and Recommendations

New information on two commonly prescribed cholesterol drugs - Vytorin and Zetia - may result in questions and concerns among patients who take these medications.  Below is information from leading cardiologists at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital about the new findings, what the research means and what patients who take these drugs should do with this new information.

New Research on Vytorin and Zetia - What does it show?

This week, the latest results from a clinical trial for the cholesterol drug, Vytorin, were announced.  Vytorin is a drug that consists of Zocor, a long-used cholesterol drug (a statin) that is available in generic form, and ezetimibe (known as Zetia), another cholesterol medication.  The clinical trial, called ENHANCE, compared Vytorin with Zocor alone and examined whether Vytorin is better than Zocor at limiting plaque buildup in the neck arteries.

The results showed that Vytorin does not reduce plaque buildup in patients any more than Zocor alone.  The importance of these findings (Vytorin was prescribed 20 million times last year) resulted in recommendations from a panel of cardiac experts as well as a paper published in a leading research journal, The New England Journal of Medicine.  The experts recommend that physicians stop prescribing Vytorin or Zetia and instead prescribe traditional statins, such as Zocor, to treat high cholesterol.  The experts also suggest that for patients who cannot tolerate the more traditional statins as well as niacin, fibrates or resins, Vytorin or Zetia may still be prescribed as a last resort.  Experts also suggest that until longer and more extensive trials of these drugs are completed, patients with high cholesterol who are taking medications focus on dietary control and regular exercise.

How should the public interpret these findings?

It is important to understand that the latest research DOES NOT question the safety of Vytorin or Zetia.  The research simply shows that Vytorin or Zetia are not any more effective at treating plaque buildup (known as the “bad” cholesterol” or LDL) than traditional statins such as Zocor.  This is significant because Vytorin costs about five times more than Zocor.  Thousands of patients may have the same health benefits for less cost.  Longer and more extensive clinical trials are underway to provide more information about Vytorin and other cholesterol-lowering drugs.

What should patients who currently take Vytorin or Zetia do?

First, patients who take Vytorin or Zetia should continue taking these medications and should contact their doctor to discuss these latest findings and their options.  The latest research indicates that patients may be able to save money by switching to a traditional statin.  However, a physician will need to make the decision based on each patient’s health condition and ability to tolerate various medications.

Where can I find additional information?

For more information on the latest research, please visit or

Learn more about the cardiac programs at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital or Washington Adventist Hospital.


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