It’s a fair question – why would bad data be hidden for years? What’s in for pharma companies to do that?
Well, I think we may have found a reason (or 5 billion reasons!)… Alex Berenson in the New York Times is writing about Merck and Schering-Plough and their delayed trial results for Vytorin and Zetia.
The results were delayed for two years and last year these two drugs had sales in the USA of $5 billion….
The lead outside investigator on a crucial trial of two widely used heart drugs said in an e-mail message last July that Merck and Schering-Plough, the companies that make the drugs, were deliberately delaying the release of the trial results “to hide something.”
The companies did not release the preliminary results of the trial, called Enhance, until January, almost two years after the trial was finished. When they were finally released, the trial’s results showed that the drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, did not work to reduce plaque in arteries. The results led a panel of cardiologists to recommend on Sunday that the drugs be used only as a last resort.
The new information was contained in e-mail messages to executives at Schering-Plough that were released Monday by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. The committee has been investigating the delay in the release of the Enhance trial results.
It is likely to inflame the controversy over the way that Merck and Schering-Plough handled the Enhance trial, as well as their heavy promotion of Vytorin and Zetia. The drugs are used to lower cholesterol and are among the most widely prescribed medicines in the United States, with sales of $5 billion last year. Shares of Merck and Schering plunged on Monday.