ZETIA’S Established “Adverse Effects” (Still) Ignored By Prescribing Docs: Its Re-Branding & Deadly Consequences. Patients, Beware!

THIS site rarely delves into purely personal matters. In fact, the last time was in February 2017. Nonetheless, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, a “public service” warning (as it happens, its intersection is with a personal tragedy) is more than appropriate. Indeed, while one should always be mindful of counting one’s blessings, an intrinsic part of living life with gratitude requires an awareness of life-and-death dangers – keeping them at bay, wherever they lurk. 

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A motto to live by.

MORE specifically, it is understood that Adina Kutnicki: A Zionist & Conservative Blog, first and foremost, tackles dangerously pressing issues relating to the security of the U.S. and Israel – with Islamic Jihad in the forefront. It is due to its “delicate” underpinnings that a decision was made not to monetize the platform, in so far that advertisers become “silent” partners, thus, beholden to. But that doesn’t mean that others are not involved, albeit, sans financial input.

THAT being established, if a personal situation crisscrosses with a critical public concern, well, it becomes necessary to dig up certain “skeletons”, painful as it is. This is one of those times.

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BUT before its essence is laid bare, it must be noted that this author has a healthy respect for physicians, that is, when deserved. Not only that, how shocking was it to find out from a Doc – one who is up close and personal – that ZETIA (hawked by behemoths Merck and Schering-Plough) is still going strong, despite ALL the evidence that it led to many deaths – my late husband’s included, back in Feb. 2008! Why the topic came up – at this point in time – is neither here nor there.

BE that as it may, this revelation led the aforementioned Doc to perform a top to bottom surgical review, colonoscopy-like, of (meticulously kept) medical and prescriptive files from 2000-2008. In no uncertain terms, a more than damning indictment against Merck and Schering-Plough and the “physician of record” emerged. Mind you, the fact that he had the reputation of being a “Top Doc” in Ridgewood, N.J. – an area in Bergen County which is not only known for its affluence, but its access to the “best of the best” – didn’t enter the evaluation. 

ONTO the public interest warning at hand: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The case. 

  • Back in Nov. 2009, the following was reported:

    A new study raises fresh concerns about Zetia and its cousin, Vytorin — drugs that are still taken by millions of Americans to lower cholesterol, despite questions raised last year about how well they work.

    In the study, Zetia failed to shrink buildups in artery walls while a rival drug, Niaspan, did so significantly. Zetia users also suffered more heart attacks and other problems although the numbers of these events are too small to draw firm conclusions.

    “This study provides no evidence that would reassure us that this drug is beneficial, and it provides some evidence that it may be harmful,” said Yale University cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz, who had no role in the study.

    The results, being presented Monday at an American Heart Association conference and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, are likely to move more doctors away from prescribing Zetia and Vytorin….continue reading the dastardly truth here…..

  • In Jan. 2010, the question became: How did drug giants Merck and Schering-Plough persuade patients to spend $21 billion on a cholesterol drug that doesn’t prevent heart attacks? According to a December 14th report in Forbes, the cholesterol-lowering drug Zetia works by a little-understood mode of action, and no research has shown that it prevents heart attacks at all. Physicians have been brutal in their assessment. Zetia’s rise “was the miracle of marketing, not the miracle of medicine,” says cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Kaul of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen adds:“We’ve spent billions on a drug that may turn out to be a placebo.”Yet Merck’s clever marketers have spun straw into gold. Over the last seven years, they have convinced doctors to prescribe $21 billion worth of Zetia and its sister drug, Vytorin, which combines Zetia with Merck’s old cholesterol drug Zocor. In fact, the drugs are on track to do $4 billion in combined sales this year, despite multiple studies suggesting they fail to prevent clogged arteries. Thanks to an agressive $200 million ad campaign, American sales of Zetia and Vytorin represent 16% of all cholesterol-lowering drug sales, but only a 3% share in Canada, where direct-to-consumer (“Ask your doctor”) advertising is banned.  Merck and its partner Schering-Plough agreed in August to pay $41.5 million to settle 140-plus lawsuits lodged against the manufacturers for misleading and improper marketing of the drug and for withholding the results of a clinical trial that showed Vytorin to be less effective than other cheaper, generic statin drugs in treating arterial plaque.Forbes also reported that last month Zetia got trounced by the B vitamin niacin in a study that used ultrasound to examine blocked arteries. Another artery study in March 2008 found that Zetia was no better than a placebo. At that time, the American College of Cardiology advised physicians to prescibe Zetia only as a “last resort”. Merck responded by insisting that the studies are flawed, and that millions of people may need Zetia or a drug like it.Physician and cholesterol expert Dr. John LaRosa is among many doctors who have always believed that Zetia should only be used in cases where the more common cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, aren’t doing enough—and that there’s no reason to take Vytorin at all. Dr. LaRosa claims:

    “The marketing pushed sales far beyond their known medical utility.”

    Merck also paid doctors to promote Zetia. In the five-month period in which the first negative Zetia trial data emerged last year, for example, Merck paid cardiologist Dr. Michael Davidson over $71,000, and Weill Cornell Medical College Dean Dr. Antonio Gotto received over $27,000 for “lectures and consulting” to encourage their peers to prescribe Zetia.

    Since 2004, Merck has bought $741 million worth of print, television and Internet advertisements for Zetia and Vytorin.

  • If the above is not enough to give one a (virtual) heart attack, there’s more. As reported in April 2011: Zetia, an anti-hyperlipidemic drug, is prescribed to treat high cholesterol. Since its FDA approval in 2002, serious Zetia side effects have been reported, including Zetia liver and Zetia heart attack problems. These Zetia problems have led to a number of Zetia lawsuits. Zetia is also used in conjunction with statins to lower cholesterol, but it has also been linked to statin side effects, and long-term use can result in statin cardiomyopathy.
  • And, even as we fast forward to March 2016, leftist NPR got in on the gang-bang, rightfully, acknowledging that the public has a vested life-and-death stake. Interestingly, they took a different approach, one which renders nonsense out of the claim by too many Docs: They are NOT influenced by drug companies! Hogwash. Doctors have long disputed the accusation that the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies have any relationship to how they prescribe drugs.There’s been little evidence to settle the matter, until now.A ProPublica analysis has found that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed prescribe drugs differently on average than their colleagues who don’t. And the more money they receive, the more brand-name medications they tend to prescribe….continue reading….

TO wrap up this loathsome public interest case, it is stipulated: Class action lawsuits are the main vehicle to hit the pharmaceutical industry (and other bad faith actors) where it hurts most – ala their bottom lines. On the other hand, oftentimes, it is also true that tough decisions are required to “right wrongs.” More pointedly, when it comes to seeking some measure of personal justice, it just depends.

IN this regard, on the personal side of the ledger, the boiling rage kept coming back to the “physician of record.”

AFTER all, it was he who knew, first hand, of the increasingly complained about adverse effects via discussions which took place (over several years) at quarterly check ups to “monitor” the efficacy of blood levels; it was he who kept insisting that ZETIA was the “be all and end all” to avoid a heart condition, that which had even been ruled out as an issue through yearly cardiac tests. In other words, the so-called preventative measure turned out to be the death sentence!

BUT after relying on this “Top Doc” (who continuously harped on and hyped-up the long-range “benefits” of ZETIA….having witnessed his mantra during some of their post check-up discussions) for a few years, a consult with another physician was made. In an eerie twist of fate, tragically, two weeks before the appointment, he died very suddenly. 

TO wit, a decision was made to hold this “Top Doc” to account and to leave it to others to deal the (dirty) drug makers a financial blow. Thus, with a volume of evidence in hand, the negligent (some might say, self-serving) physician was brought to the attention of the State Attorney General’s Office in N.J. – with the capable assistance of an influential “birdie.” In short order, the case was immediately referred to the State Medical Board, which agreed that appropriate Disciplinary Action was warranted. Thank G-d for that. In furtherance of personal justice, the public interest was also served – although it was nowhere on this radar at that time. Regardless, his tarnished record is front and center at the State’s “physician profiles” website, to be reviewed by those who want to check on this one’s and that one’s credentials before hooking up. Now, that’s a public service!

EVEN so, most significant for the reader is the public interest concern.  Effectively, AFTER class action lawsuits exposed the not so hidden dangers of ZETIA, the drug makers accomplished an end-run (with many helping hands by the FDA and a horde of lobbyists) by re-branding ZETIA under its generic name, EZETIMIBE, a kissing cousin – never mind the deadly facts! Yes, a new marketing campaign and full court press was cranked up. Basically, the lure of its cheaper cost is endangering a new generation of users. 

Merck

(Billions in revenue from Merck’s Zetia is set to be challenged as Endo launched the blockbuster’s first copycat – Dec. 2016)

MIND you, even though Merck and Schering-Plough settled millions in claims, they are non-pulsed. Non-chagrined. Besides, they know – as do others – that said costs are a small price to pay, when factored into the billions more to be made down the line.

CONSEQUENTIALLY, the question remains: Who deserves more punishment – the prescribing physician who is duly aware of ZETIA’s fatal “adverse effects”, yet, pushes it for this or that reason, or the corrupt-ridden drug companies, which not only fail to alert the public when the evidence is in, but continue to advertise its medicinal “wonders” to an unsuspecting public? You decide.

CONCLUSIVELY, view the above as a Thanksgiving “gift” to this site’s dedicated readers and their loved ones, many of whom may be advised by their physician to use ZETIA; if not now, perhaps, in the future.

IN turn…..

PAY THIS PUBLIC INTEREST INFO FORWARD – BEFORE AVOIDABLE AND INCALCULABLE LOSSES ARE SUFFERED!! 

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