Health News Review

I’ve blogged earlier about something being smelly about the ENHANCE trial, comparing the cholesterol drug Zetia plus Zocor versus Zocor alone.

This week, a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association addresses some of the stink. Excerpts:

The unusual release on January 14, 2008, in the news media and on a drug company Web site, of a portion of the Effect of Ezetimibe Plus Simvastatin Versus Simvastatin Alone on Atherosclerosis in the Carotid Artery (ENHANCE) trial data resulted in numerous articles and commentaries in the lay media. The availability of only fragmentary information created massive confusion and raised many more questions than answers for patients, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and regulators. A full report of the ENHANCE trial in a peer-reviewed medical journal is not expected for months, and the first public presentation of the study’s findings in a medical setting will not occur before late March 2008.

Lesson 1: Drug Trials Should Not Be Done for Marketing Purposes Only

Lesson 2: The News Media Must Be Sure to Get the Facts Straight. Errors in Reporting Can Cause Serious Damage, and Patients May Be Harmed or Become Distressed From the Resulting Confusion

Lesson 3: Leading Scientific, Patient-Oriented, and Disease-Oriented Organizations Must Scrupulously Avoid Conflict of Interest

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