The Republican from Iowa, who is the ranking member of the US Senate Finance Committee, is askingSchering-Plough and Merck to explain when they first unblinded their controversial Enhance study data, and to account for sales and payments made for the cholesterol drug to Medicaid.
"In Iowa City, generic (Zocor) costs $54.54 for a month's supply while Vytorin costs $112.46. It's fair to assume the public would have benefited from knowing that a less expensive drug works just as well. Instead, people in Iowa and elsewhere paid more for nearly two years, while industry leaders sat on a scientific study that would have revealed this information," he says in a statement.
Like the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Grassley is responding to the scandal over the two-year delay in releasing trial data and the decision by the drugmakers to briefly change the primary endpoint with consulting the lead investigator. These activities, which drew enormous suspicion, looked still worse after the results released last week indicated Vytorin showed no statistically significant improvement in reducing plaque in the neck artery when compared with the much cheaper Zocor.
Meanwhile, Grassley has also written letters to Securities and Exchange Commission to ask the agency to examine stock sales by Carrie Smith Cox and other Schering-Plough execs. And he's sent letters to both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, both of which quickly issued statements telling docs and patients not to panic over the study results, without disclosing financial ties or support involving the drugmakers.