Q. There was a lot of hoopla recently about the drug Zetia. I called my doctor, who told me to continue taking it, but if it's not doing anything good for my high cholesterol, why bother?
A pharmacist told me that the FDA hasn't recalled it, so it must be all right. Can you shed any light on this?
A. Zetia (ezetimibe) and Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) lower cholesterol. The unresolved question is whether they prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
The study you heard about was called ENHANCE because the company hoped Vytorin would be better than Zocor (simvastatin) alone. Scientists compared the thickness of the lining of the carotid arteries in the neck between people put on Vytorin and those on simvastatin. Vytorin lowered bad LDL cholesterol more than Zocor did but this did not lead to healthier arteries.
Cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic was shocked by the results. He advised his colleagues not to prescribe Zetia except as a last resort.