Studies: Cholesterol-Lowering Prescription Drugs Aren't All They Claim to Be
Amazing, isn't it? Another study indicates that a natural supplement might actually be more effective than expensive prescription drugs - found through the drug manufacturer's own research!
Cholesterol-lowering drugs Vytorin and Zetia may not be as great as they were once touted to be, following the release of a recent study. The study found that using a prescription form of the compound niacin (also known as vitamin B3) reduced artery plaque significantly better over the course of eight months than ezetimibe, the active ingredient in both Vytorin and Zetia. Patients from the ezetimibe group also suffered more heart attacks and other major heart problems than those in the niacin group, but the link is inconclusive. The major draw backs of the study are its small sample size and the fact that Merck Research Laboratories stopped the study after only 14 months, ostensibly because the patients in the niacin group were doing so much better than the Merck drugs group. Merck is using the limitations of the small sample size to defend their drug's efficacy, but considering niacin has been in use for over 50 years and is known to help lower cholesterol levels, it casts doubt on whether taking these drugs with sales of around $21 billion worldwide since 2003 is really necessary.
This study follows a study from about a year ago that showed Vytorin, which is a combination of ezetimibe and cholesterol-lowering simvastatin, worked no better than simply using simvastatin alone. Another recent study was funded by Abbott Laboratories to test Niaspan, a slow- release form of niacin, against Zetia. This study used 363 people who had heart disease or a high risk of heart problems, and all had been taking statins and had fairly low levels of LDL cholesterol. Ultrasound images of the neck were taken and showed that overall the Niaspan reduced artery plaque by 2 percent, whereas Zetia did not reduce it at all. According to Roger Blumenthal, director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins Cardiovascular Institute and an author who detailed the limitations of first study, Vytorin and Zetia should be used for patients who can't reduce their cholesterol through the use of statins and niacin first.