Hereâ€™s a link to the article:
And a few paragraphs to whet your appetite:
"Unlike Merck's Vioxx, which in 2004 was found to contribute to heart attacks in some patients and was pulled off the market, Vytorin is safe and can still be sold. It does, the study found, reduce the levels of LDL in patients. It just doesn't, according to the study, live up to its claim of reducing plaque build-up. That's why Peter Pitts, a former associate commissioner for the FDA and now the president of New York-based Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, says this won't be the death knell for DTC that some think it is.
Just because a congressman sneezes doesn't mean pharmaceutical companies will catch a cold, Mr. Pitts said. DTC is heavily regulated and the question becomes 'What does the study tell us and how is it relevant to DTC?' It's a small study and a study based on certain genotypes. If you're currently on Vytorin, you don't have to stop taking it.
But even Mr. Pitts, a strong advocate for DTC, admits drug companies need an image boost. The industry should absolutely explain to the general population where drugs come from and how they're made," he said. â€œIt's going to be hard. It's going to be a long-term proposition. But it's important for the viability of its image with consumers, not to mention the people on Capitol Hill."
That being said, itâ€™s good news that, in yesterdayâ€™s edition of the New York Times (and elsewhere) there was a Vytorin ad that tried to put the current study into perspective.
Nice start â€“ but more needs to be done. Vioxx was a missed opportunity to talk (soberly and sensibly) about safety (risk/benefit). Letâ€™s not let Vytorin be a missed opportunity to talk about what clinical trials can tell us â€“ and what they cannot.
This is an important teaching moment -- and can show the potency of DTC advertising and, more broadly, DTCÂ² (direct to consumer communications) as a way to educate the public (yes -- politicians too) about the urgency of personalized medicine and 21st century clinical trial design.
Tough and complicated topics? You bet. But (as Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own) "If it was easy, anyone could do it."