Vytorin, Zetia scrips drop 11% in April

Prescriptions for Vytorin and Zetia, Merck/Schering-Plough's co-marketed cholesterol meds, fell off by 11 percent just during the month of April, to less than 2.5 million from 2.8 million in March. Cumulatively, they're down by 22 percent since January.

You'll recall that in early January, the joint venture announced the results of the long-awaited Enhance study, which showed that the Vytorin combo of Zetia and Zocor didn't prevent artery-clogging any better than Zocor did alone. Predictably, scrip volume dropped by more than 13 percent month-over-month in February. But the numbers edged back upward in March as Merck and Schering-Plough did damage control with doctors.

Then, at the end of March, the Enhance data was presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting; doctors there recommended limiting use of Vytorin and Zetia to patients who'd tried a host of other alternatives. So it's not surprising that April scrips dropped so dramatically. Year over year, first-quarter sales of the meds rose about 6 percent to $1.2 billion, a big slowdown from the 30 percent growth in 2007.

- read the CNN Money article