Ready for a quantitative look at how the Enhance study affected public attitudes toward the meds in question, Vytorin and Zetia? Well, according to Verispan, U.S. prescriptions written for Vytorin last week fell by 9.5 percent to 359,659 compared with the week before. Zetia scrips dropped even more, to 258,619 from 294,405--a 12 percent decrease.
Obviously, the study results caused a lot of confusion and furor last week, so the decline could reverse itself as patients have a chance to talk to their doctors and doctors have time to absorb the new data. Or it could continue, shifting more patients to drugs like Lipitor with outcomes studies under their belts.
Meanwhile, Merck and Schering-Plough made a good P.R. move: The companies suspended the familiar "food and family" television ads that push Vytorin. Zetia ads have also been pulled. The companies blamed the ad suspension on "mischaracterization and misinterpretation" of the Enhance results. In case you've been incommunicado for the last week, that study showed Vytorin--a combo of simvastatin and Zetia--was no better at preventing atherosclerosis than simvastatin alone.