When study results are bad. Delay, Delay, Delay

The previous post noted that drug companies do not publish negative or neutral studies about their drugs. This is possible when such studies are obscure and not widely publicized. When the study is a large multi-institutional study with many participants who are awaiting the results, the strategy is to delay delay delay.

A clinical trial of Zetia, a cholesterol lowering drug prescribed to about 1 million people a week, failed to show that the drug has any medical benefits, Merck and Schering-Plough said on Monday

This trial was designed to show that Zetia could reduce the growth of those plaques. Instead, the plaques actually grew almost twice as fast in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone.

The results will also add to the controversy surrounding a long delay in releasing the results of the trial. Merck and Schering-Plough completed the trial in April 2006 and had initially planned to release the findings no later than March 2007. But the companies then missed several self-imposed deadlines, citing the complexity of the data analysis from the study and saying they did not know when or if the data would be ready for publication.

Last month, after several news articles highlighted the delay, they finally agreed to release the results soon.

These noble companies, take advantage of a patent system that grants them a monopoly on a drug for a generation. Their ethical concerns do not seem to include assuring patients the best possible care.. Maximizing income is more important. Our non-system of health care is scandalous.

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