But to some Wall Street analysts, such reactions to the trial, which compared Vytorin with Zocor, were overkill. Tim Anderson of Sanford Bernstein, for instance, had this to say in a research report today: "No statistically significant efficacy differences were seen between the two trial arms, and the safety profiles of each drug were similar...
"In isolation, the results probably would have led to a share price rise for Schering-Plough and Merck, but largely due to negative comments from prominent cardiologist Steve Nissen, share prices declined. Dr. Nissen used words like 'shocking' to describe results, which in turn predictably led to negative press reports. All industry experts we corresponded with, however, felt that this description of the results was overly dramatic.
"We have previously stated that neutral results from Enhance would likely only have a muted impact on Vytorin prescription trends given the limitations of the study, but some prescriber business may be lost on the margin contingent on much negative coverage Enhance."
And Catherine Arnold of Credit Suisse was similarly taken aback in her own research report today: "Plaque studies do not have the relevance of mortality studies, nor do they portend whether a drug will reduce the risk of cardiovascular events and death and the stock reaction was significantly overdone. The lack of a positive result in this high-risk population...is disappointing, and may delay Vytorin recovery from a commercial perspective, but does not change the prospects for the drug having a positive mortality and morbidity outcome.
"The big question is what happens to Vytorin prescription trends as competitors like AstraZeneca and Pfizer use the Enhance results to disparage Vytorin and question its benefits."