Merck stifles ezetimibe criticism

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The head of evidence-based medicine at Milan's health authority, Alberto Donzelli, has pulled down criticism of Merck's cholesterol drug ezetimibe from his website, after the drugmaker sent two cease-and-desist letters and threatened to sue the government agency and Donzelli for $1.78 million over what the company calls serious misconduct and breach of medical ethics, reports BMJ.

Donzelli raised the pharmaceutical company's ire because he has been encouraging medical professionals to stop prescribing the drug, which is also a component of Zetia and Vytorin.

The director general of Milan's regulatory body, Roberto Carlo Rossi, sided with Donzelli and said the medical commission supported Donzelli, because there was no ethical breach. BMJ reports that Donzelli responded to Merck's first letter saying he “exercised his right to tell the general practitioners what emerged from our in-depth analyses of the published literature, on a peer-to-peer basis.”

Forbes notes that the drug has critics outside of Italy, and that ACP Internist recently ran a blog post which asked “Why are we still prescribing what appears to be a useless drug?”

Donzelli tells BMJ the information will stay off of his website “until the issue is further clarified within the scientific community.”

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