The pharmaceutical industry does many wonderful things, yet most people regard it as one step below head lice on the food chain.
This week, Merck, with some questionable help from the FDA, gave more ammunition to industry critics, who typically maintain that the industry contributes little innovation, and is simply concerned with profits.
For the most part, this criticism is biased and uninformed, but this time I m siding with the critics. Because Merck is trying something that is as good an example of marketing without innovation as you ll ever see.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom has quite a bit to say about the recent FDA approval of Merck s Liptruzet, a knock off of their own Vytorin a combination of the statin Zocor and the cholesterol absorption inhibitor Zetia.
He continues, There are two problems here. First, although Vytorin does lower cholesterol better than either of its components alone, this has not resulted in any benefit in terms of cardiovascular outcomes. Second, Merck s new drug is simply a combination of Zetia plus atorvastatin (generic Lipitor). It too has failed to show improvement in cardiovascular outcome, which is not surprising, since Merck has simply switched one statin for another and combined it with Zetia in order to gain additional patent protection. This is very low rent research.
You can read his op-ed entitled How can Merck look itself in the mirror? here.