Vytorin and Cancer

The jury is still out on whether there is a link between cancer and Vytorin. In a recently published clinical study, the evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of cancer in people taking the drug. However, an analysis of that study (and two others) claim that this conclusion is based on statistical irregularities and that there is no true link.

Is There a Link Between Vytorin and Cancer?

Vytorin® (ezetimibe/simvastatin) is a popular cholesterol medication. It has received quite a bit of media attention suggesting that the medication is linked to cancer and cancer deaths. But is there any truth to such claims, or is it all hype? This article will review the current evidence on this matter.
 

The SEAS Trial

In the Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis (SEAS) trial, published in the September 25, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine, people taking Vytorin had an increased risk of cancer, compared to people taking a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredients). Specifically, there was an 11.1 percent incidence of cancer of any type, including recurrent cancer, in people taking Vytorin, compared with a 7.5 percent incidence in people taking the placebo. This difference was statistically significant.
 
In the SEAS trial, there was not a significant increase in any particular type of cancer. In other words, a difference between Vytorin and the placebo was seen only if all the different types of cancer were combined.
 

The Peto Analysis

Sir Richard Peto of the University of Oxford is one of the world's leading medical statisticians. He analyzed the SEAS data, along with the data from two ongoing trials, and his results were published along with the SEAS results in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the two other trials, Vytorin was not associated with a statistically significant increase in cancer or cancer deaths. Peto concluded that the available information "does not provide credible evidence" that the medication causes cancer.
 
Basically, the Peto analysis suggests that the SEAS trial results were a statistical anomaly and that there is no true link between Vytorin and cancer.
 
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Vytorin Information

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