"Medically, I don't know what was happening with my plaque issue," says Jones, "but something broke loose and caused a blockage in my artery. Vytorin was supposed to take care of the plaque—according to their advertising and marketing of this product anyway. Had I known it wasn't helping, I would have taken another medication."
Jones, aged 57, started taking Vytorin one year ago this month. One year ago he was in good health; he was a coach and a former athlete. Jones's doctor prescribed Vytorin in an attempt to lower his blood pressure (140 over 90) and cholesterol level (212). "I am 6' 5" and 215 lbs. I don't smoke and there is no heart disease in my family," says Jones. "In fact I have a 90-year-old aunt who had a heart attack at 82 and she is still kicking along."
"After reading the studies about Vytorin, I am upset with my medical insurer because I paid about $100 for three months supply of Vytorin that contains Zetia." Studies now indicate that Zocor by itself can have the same effects as Vytorin and that costs $5 for the same amount—and lasts the same amount of time--a substantial difference.
(Vytorin is a combination of two drugs — one of the early statin medications called Zocor and Zetia.)
His cholesterol levels appeared to have lowered but something was causing Jones a lot of discomfort that eventually led to his heart attack.
"My investigation of Zetia shows there is a study coming out in 2012 or so that may indicate it causes heart attacks—Zetia is the drug that is in Vytorin," says Jones. "From what I understand, Zocor is the cheap one that does the job whereas Zetia is the unknown expensive one that can cause all these problems, including heart attack. I am upset that it was allowed to be marketed in the US without real studies."
Jones was a school teacher for 30 years—he is not unfamiliar with research. "I found out by researching the internet that the Vytorin/Zetia tests are ongoing and the conclusion won't be available until 2012 or even 2015. So here is the question: why is it on the market now? I suggest because it is very profitable.
In science, you don't do things and claim what you think is supposed to be happening until it is tested and retested. This company has made billions off a product at the expense of people like me. As for my heart attack, no doctor has been able to tell me why I had it. Nobody has been able to tell me why I have recurring chest pains and depression that I didn't have a year ago, before taking this medication.
Several other drug companies can be accused of fraudulent marketing but this one bothers me the most. We are supposed to be free market and capitalistic in the US so why are we paying so much? Just one of those marketing things—how did the FDA approve this drug with such little testing and why are doctors so willing to push it on their patients? From what I learned, it isn't the first drug of choice to lower cholesterol so why was it the first drug I was offered?
I haven't been back to my doctor since the news broke about Zetia but I phoned him and said that I wouldn't take Vytorin anymore. Instead he prescribed an alternative: the generic Zocor at the lower price. I won't know how it is doing until I get more tests—in three weeks."
LawyersandSettlements will check back with Garry Jones in three weeks.