Once again, prescriptions for the embattled Merck/Schering-Plough med Vytorin have dropped, this time by 5 percent during the month of June. Cholesterol drug sales fell overall, by 2 percent, but obviously Vytorin's loss outpaced that decline, leaving the med with only 6.8 percent of the market, compared with 9 percent back in January, when preliminary results from the controversial Enhance trial were released. As you know, that trial found that Vytorin--a combo of simvastatin and Zetia--was no better at preventing artery-clogging than simvastatin alone. So it's not a huge surprise that Schering's latest sales figures show Zetia scrips still falling, too, by 3.7 percent in the month of June.
Probably not a huge surprise, either, that CEO Fred Hassan is bringing in some help to manage the company's image through the spate of bad publicity. Christopher Bowe, a former Financial Times pharma reporter, will consult with Hassan's longtime "media masseuse" Ken Banta. We'll watch and see whether the media plays along.