Zetia and Vytorin Side Effects
The cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin have been linked to a number of serious and possibly life-threatening side effects, including heart attack, stroke, liver damage and cancer.
In November 2009, a study comparing Zetia to another cholesterol treatment, niacin (Niaspan), found that Zetia users were five times more likely to suffer major adverse events, including heart attack, death from heart disease, surgery to clear blocked arteries or hospitalization. The study also found that Zetia users had a greater average plaque buildup in their carotid arteries, which could lead to further side effects.
A study comparing patients treated with Vytorin (which combines Zetia with the statin drug Zocor) to those given Zocor alone found that Vytorin users were more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and to die from the disease. Vytorin patients also showed no significant improvements in complications from heart valve disease, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure and chest pain compared to those treated with Zocor.
Clinical trials for Zetia found that when the drug is taken along with statins such as Zocor, Lipitor and Crestor, patients were 11 times more likely to develop serious side effects than when treated with statins alone. Nearly all of these cases involved patients who developed liver failure or other liver problems. Other studies have also found cases of severe liver damage among Zetia patients who were taking statins.
Health officials in Australia and Canada issued warnings about the risk of hepatitis and pancreatitis for Zetia patients after concerns about the drug’s risk of liver injuries was first raised. Despite these concerns, the U.S. version of Zetia labeling contains only mild warnings about the drug’s risk of liver damage. So far, neither the Food and Drug Administration or the manufacturers of Zetia and Vytorin have announced plans to issue a recall of these drugs.