Merck (MRK) and Schering-Plough (SGP) make two of the most widely sold drugs in the world. One is cholesterol drug Zetia. Another is a related drug called Vytorin. The sales of the treatments topped $5 billion last year.
Zetia and Vytorin are more examples of how little the FDA cares about the health of the general population.
The two drugs do not seem to be terribly effective. Worse, according to The New York Times, scientists are debating whether there is a link between the products and cancer.
A treatment that does little or nothing for the patient other than bring potential harm should not be on the market at all.
The FDA has become a fairly ineffective agency and that has been of benefit to many pharma companies. If Zetia were pulled from the market, Merck’s financials would be significantly damaged. Merck’s shares trade at just over $35, which is near a 52-week low. But, any investor buying in now faces the risk that the government will knuckle under to protests about Zetia and severely limit the drug’s use.
It is an odd brew. If patients using the Merck drug are helped by limits on Zetia’s prescriptions, Merck’s shareholders will be massacred.
Douglas A. McIntyre