Reuters and a number of other news agencies are reporting that the cholesterol fighter Vytorin s failed to meet the main goal of a study. They are also reporting that it is causing cancer. Are they telling you the truth?
The reporting on this story is incredibly misleading.
First of all, the study was examining whether Vytorin reduced aortic valve disease events (such as the need for surgical valve replacement). For this purpose, it was, indeed, no better than placebo.
Well, hello. I wouldn’t expect it to have that effect. So for me, there’s no surprise here.
Then, several news outlets are reporting that there were slightly more cancer deaths in the drug group — 39 versus 23 on placebo. But folks, this difference is statistically insignificant. In other words, as the researchers have said, it could have occurred as a result of chance.
To counter this dangerous and sensationalized reporting, a researcher in London is taking the highly unusual (but very appropriate) tact of reporting that his and other ongoing trials are finding no cancer risk with Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvistatin).
Sir Richard Peto said cancer increase in this new study is “hypothesis-generating,” but is not supported by his analysis of data from two ongoing 20,000-patient trials of Vytorin.
In addition, much larger studies of Vytorin have not showed increased cancer risk.
What the news media is not saying, and the real message of this study, is that Vytorin was significantly better than placebo in reducing atherosclerotic events, defined as non-fatal heart attacks, need for coronary artery bypass surgery or artery-clearing procedures, and hospitalization due to chest pain and strokes in people with aortic stenosis. This is GREAT news.
In addition, Vytorin lowered bad or lethal LDL cholesterol by 61 percent throughout the study.
As I’ve said in a previous blog, the bottom line is that until proven otherwise, Vytorin appears to be an excellent medication for those not responding to a statin alone. Now, it appears to be an excellent choice for those with aortic stenosis, also.