The FDA has approved Vytorin™, a combination tablet of generic ezetimibe (Zetia tablet, Schering-Plough), and drug simvastatin (Zocor medication, Merck). The medication combines a cholesterol blocker with a popular statin. It inhibits the production of cholesterol in the liver and blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, including cholesterol from food.
In a 12-week study, the drug reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 52% at the recommended starting dose (10/20 mg) and by 60% at the maximum dose (10/80 mg).
The new goals are expected to lead doctors to increase the use of drugs to reduce cholesterol levels when diet and exercise do not achieve the lower numbers. At least 36 million patients are candidates for statins.
Only 50% of patients are still taking cholesterol drugs a year after beginning the regimen, doctors say. A combination tablet might make it easier for patients to remember to take their medications.
A single product would also carry one co-payment and could be less expensive, but whether Vytorin™ will be economical will depend on its price.
For more information about Vytorin™, see the Pharmaceutical-Approval Update on page 507 of this issue of P&T.