The reason is that, according to Forbes, when the companies made the decision to change the endpoint of the trial, the lead investigator in the trial was not present. For a company to make such a decision without the input or involvement of its lead investigator is highly unusual. In fact, one researcher, quoted in Forbes, called the move "shocking."
The trial, known as ENHANCE, tests whether Zetia and another drug, Vytorin, are better at clearing plaque out of arteries than generic drugs. On November 19, 2007, Merck and Shering-Plough said that after two years of delays, they would finally release the results of the study. However, they also announced at that time that the endpoint of the study (meaning the goal of the study) would be changed. Then, according to Forbes, on December 11, they changed their minds and said the endpoint would not be changed, to the relief of the lead investigator.
However, the announcement about the ENHANCE trial endpoint does not change that the makers of Zetia have delayed releasing the results for two years. Nor does it alleviate the concern of patients who are worried that they are at risk of liver problems because they took Zetia with a statin. Furthermore, patients who take Zetia are also at risk of extreme muscle pain.
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It is no longer surprising that a drug company may have known about the risks of a drug but not made those risks public. Unfortunately, it means that more and more patients are left taking drugs without knowing the full extent of the possible serious side effects of those drugs.