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A clinical trial of the cholesterol-lowering drug Zetia has failed to show that the drug has any medical benefits. These results add to the growing concern over Zetia and Vytorin, a drug that combines Zetia with another cholesterol medicine, Zocor. Either Zetia or Vytorin is prescribed to a million people every week.
Zetia lowers cholesterol by 15 percent to 20 percent in most patients, but no trial has ever shown that it can reduce heart attacks and strokes, or even reduce the growth of fatty plaques in arteries.
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.
Dr. Steven Nissen, the chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, called the results “shocking,” and said that patients should not be prescribed Zetia unless all other cholesterol drugs have failed.