Lower is better: ENHANCE affair
AbstractEzetimibe lowers the intestinal absorption of cholesterol, being complementary to the effects of statin. To check its efficacy in lowering the carotid intima-media thickness, in 2002 a multicenter international trial called ENHANCE was started, in order to assess by ultrasound the regression of atherosclerotic plaques. The protocol tested the use of simvastatin 80 mg + placebo versus simvastatin 80 mg + ezetimibe 10 mg in 720 randomized patients. Both drugs were well tolerated. Combination therapy was associated with a larger reduction in LDL cholesterol, but there were no differences in the intima-media thickness measured at three sites in the carotid arteries, nor differences in cardiovascular events between the two groups in the trial. These results provoked disappointment of sponsors (Merck, Schering Plough) who, although the results of the trial were available since march 2007, delayed official communication of about 18 months. This led to speculations and rumors among media, American Government, cardiologic scientific associations, and consequences in the Ezetimibe market and at Wall Street. In particular, the American College of Cardiology didnâ€™t accept the communication of ENHANCE results to the Late Breaking Trial Session of the Chicago congress, diverting it to another secondary forum. In conclusion, the experience of the ENHANCE trial suggests to pharmaceutical companies, researchers, clinicians, scientific companies and media a deep meditation in order to avoid in the future similar problems in the management of results of medical research.
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