Remember how the American Heart Association rushed to the defense of Vytorin after the results of the Enhance study were released last week? The group issued a statement saying that the study showed the drug to be as safe as the competition, and patients shouldn't rush to judgment.
Well, now several news outlets are pointing out that the association gets almost $2 million annually from Merck and Schering-Plough, which make Vytorin; that AHA president Dan Jones has been a Merck consultant; and that among the $2 million in contributions was a $350,000 sponsorship of a cholesterol page on the association's website--a page that was difficult to distinguish from AHA's other content. In response, the association revamped that web page to make its sponsorship more evident.
Too late, though, for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which now says it will probe the relationship between AHA and Merck/Schering-Plough. The committee also plans to look into links between the companies and the American College of Cardiology, which also issued a statement last week telling patients not to stop taking Vytorin without consulting a doctor. For the record, both groups say their drug company funding had nothing to do with their public statements.