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Ezetimibe/Simvastatin (marketed as Vytorin), Ezetimibe (marketed as Zetia), and Simvastatin (marketed as Zocor)

Audience: Cardiovascular healthcare professionals and patients

[Posted 01/25/2008] FDA provided healthcare professionals with an early communication about an ongoing data review for Ezetimibe/Simvastatin (marketed as Vytorin), Ezetimibe (marketed as Zetia), and Simvastatin (marketed as Zocor). This early communication is in keeping with FDA’s commitment to inform the public about ongoing postmarketing drug issues.

Merck/Schering Plough Pharmaceuticals reported preliminary results from the Effect of Combination Ezetimibe and High-Dose Simvastatin vs. Simvastatin Alone on the Atherosclerotic Process in Patients with Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (ENHANCE) trial. This trial was designed to evaluate the amount of atherosclerotic plaque in blood vessels located in the neck based on images obtained through ultrasound in patients treated with Vytorin (ezetimibe plus simvastatin) or simvastatin alone.  Merck/Schering Plough stated that there was no significant difference between Vytorin and simvastatin in the amount of atherosclerotic plaque in the inner walls of the carotid (neck) arteries despite greater lowering of LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) with Vytorin compared to simvastatin. Once Merck/Schering Plough completes the analysis of the unblinded data from ENHANCE, it will submit a final study report to FDA. Once FDA receives the final study report, FDA estimates it will take approximately 6 months to fully evaluate the data. After reviewing the data from the ENHANCE study, and considering all other available information about the link between LDL lowering and reduction of cardiovascular events, FDA will determine whether any further regulatory action is warranted with regard to Zetia and Vytorin and also whether any changes to FDA’s current approach to drugs that lower LDL cholesterol are warranted.

Patients should talk to their doctors if they have any questions about the information from the ENHANCE trial.

[January 25, 2008 - Early Communication about an Ongoing Data Review - FDA]