Our Daily Meds: How the Pharmaceutical Companies
Transformed Themselves Into Slick Marketing Machines
and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs
By Melody Petersen
In mid-January, Merck and Schering-Plough announced that their cholesterol-lowering drugs Zetia and Vytorin, taken by 5 million people, may in fact increase the risk of heart attacks by encouraging the buildup of arterial plaque. Outraged critics accused the companies of delaying the release of a key study, a charge made compelling by the fact that sales of the two drugs were $5 billion in 2007, a full year after the study was completed.
After the news hit, Merck and Schering-Plough stock prices spiraled down. The House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations planned an inquiry. But Merck chief executive Richard Clark stood firm, saying he stood by the safety and efficacy of the "products," both of which remain on the market. MORE