Yes, the sponsor of the study has a financial incentive to see patients take less pricey medicines (especially if the results don't really differ, between outcomes from the pricey and the cheap drugs), and yes it was not peer-reviewed, or vetted, as a NEJM article would be, but it did examine 30,000 patients' histories. That makes it twice the size of the much debated IMPROVE-IT trial, still stuck at 15,000 patients.
Peter Loftus, for the Wall Street Journal, reporting from the AHA, in Orlando:
. . . .A new study by health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. concludes Merck & Co.'s cholesterol drug Vytorin didn't significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes compared with a generic alternative or Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor. . . .
"Treatment with the combination Vytorin drug really showed no significant difference in those clinical results when compared with what we tried to match up as equipotent doses of simvastatin and [Lipitor] alone," said Brian Solow, senior medical director at Prescription Solutions. . . .
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[AND FROM THE BLOOMBERG VERSION]
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. . . .The analysis suggests that heart patients may fare just as well by taking the least-expensive cholesterol-lowering pill. Simvastatin costs 84 cents for a 40 milligram dose, compared with $3.91 for the same dosage of Lipitor and $3.74 for Vytorin. A study last year showed that Vytorin worked no better than simvastatin at reopening arteries and a separate study reported this week found that Abbott Laboratories’ Niaspan may be superior to Vytorin in certain patients. . . .
"This looks at a real world context of 30,000 total lives and we are looking at the lives they would normally lead while on these medications," said Brad Curtis, a vice president and medical director for Prescription Solutions. "We are showing how it looks out there in the real world. . . ."
The evidence continues to pile up, here.