PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: Schering-Plough and Merck have managed to fool an estimated 75% of U.S. physicians.

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Schering-Plough and Merck have managed to fool an estimated 75% of U.S. physicians.

Today in an SEC filing, Schering-Plough revealed that total prescriptions for disaster meds Vytorin and Zetia have dropped by more than 20% from January to April 2008.

Total number of prescriptions were 3,205,000 in January and 2,492,000 in April.

Most bloggers and commentators seem to think this is a dramatic drop.

Reality is that Schering-Plough and Merck have so far been able to retain over 75% of their market. Vytorin’s share of the cholesterol market went from 9 percent to 7.2 percent between January and April. And Zetia’s share fell from 6.7 percent to 5.5 percent.

That is the amazing fact--a drug that has not been proven to work, caused multiple congressional inquiries and major news coverage and it is still selling to the tune of billions of dollars!

Welcome to the world snake oil merchants and the people who help grease their machinery: Your friendly neighborhood doc, who continues to write all those scripts.


Anonymous Condor said...

Hey Dr. Rost --

One possibility -- explained to me by a very astute financier (and, coincidentally, a man taking a generic statin for his high-cholesterol) may be that it will take 120 or more days for those old Vytorin prescriptions to be flushed out. He thinks most folks buy in four or more month doses, to save money, and because Vytorin is so darn expensive, they'll wait until time to refill to visit the doc -- then the doc will write a Lipitor or Crestor script.

Or so his theory goes -- and he has a significant short position on SGP, to back his thinking up.

He feels -- like I do -- that by late summer, we will begin to see the bulk of the switching. As McCain's case proved, it is likely that the richest 1/10 of one percent have already tossed their Vytorin (regardless of the cost per pill), and switched -- in his case, to generic Zocor. So, if Vytorin lost 25 percent of the market when it was only the richest .001 of the nation -- what will happen to those whose insurance carriers will now bring the co-pay up to 40%, or 50% of the retail price of Vytorin?

And what of those without health insurance, at all? For those 49 million or so Americans, it would seem unlikely that they'd stay on Vytorin -- it may be a lot of them were never on it in the first place, buying generic statins instead.

I may write a longer one on this at mine. And I'll link yours.

Great post!


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