In fact, Raymond had so much plaque build-up within his stent that if the device had not been removed he likely would have had a cardiac event. While Raymond has health problems that contribute to his high cholesterol, he is the type of person for whom Vytorin is considered to be effective. So what happened?
Well, nothing, in a word. Vytorin didn't do what it was supposed to do. "We assumed the stents would be good for the rest of his life," Shelva said. While you might be able to argue that Raymond is a medically challenging case, he has a pacemaker, and is on a handful of medications for his heart disease. Shelva was also taking Vytorin, and she wasn't seeing any benefit from the drug either. "It didn't do me any good," she said.
They found out that Vytorin was ineffective because shortly before Raymond's surgery, both Shelva and her husband had their blood work done. "We got our results back and there were no changes in the cholesterol levels. I said to my husband - why are we taking it?" So they asked their doctor, but he wasn't concerned. "Even though our cholesterol counts hadn't changed, the doctor told us to keep on taking it," Shelva said.
But approximately two weeks before Raymond's surgery, both Shelva and her husband decided to stop taking the drug and save themselves some money. Their doctor wasn't happy about it. "When we asked the doctor why Raymond had to have new stents put in, the doctor said it was 'because we quit taking the Vytorin'. But it wasn't doing us any good," Shelva said.
Because her husband is diabetic and needs to control his blood sugar levels, Shelva takes great care with their diet. She makes sure that they eat healthy foods. "For example, I cook with nothing but virgin olive oil. Our blood sugars our controlled," she said. "Yet when Raymond was hospitalized he was given mashed potatoes with gravy. I told the doctor - 'we don't eat gravy'." They are educated health care consumers.
So when Shelva and Raymond heard about the warnings concerning Vytorin - that it wasn't doing what it was designed to do (lower cholesterol) -they went to see their doctor. "He said 'don't believe anything you see on TV - it's not correct. You take what I give you.' We even printed out information from medical sites that said that vytorin wasn't doing what it was supposed to do, and we took it to our doctor. He wouldn't even look at it, Shelva said."
They weren't impressed. "People are afraid not to take what the doctor gives them, because they trust their doctor," Shelva said. But her feelings toward the medical establishment are no longer that optimistic. " I'm afraid I don't have much faith in them any more."
As for their lives now? "We're in limbo right now. Raymond was laid off from work, because of his heart disease. He's having a lot of problems. He's tired all the time, and dizzy and yet he's been told he can go back to work. I don't see how," Shelva said.
So Shelva wants to tell their story - she wants people to know what happened to herself and her husband. "I think people should know about this, because it's [Vytorin] not doing any good."