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Mid-January saw Merck and Schering-Plough's jointly marketed statin combo Vytorin take the lead in projected switches of cholesterol-lowering indications for the first time since the drug's September 2004 launch, according to Verispan data.
Vytorin captured 21 percent of the switches from other cholesterol-lowering drugs, a total of 19,355 patient transactions, occurring during the week ending Jan. 14.
Thirty-six percent of the switches came from patients who previously took either Zocor or Zetia -- the two medications that are combined to form Vytorin -- 27 percent came from Pfizer's Lipitor, and 8 percent came from AstraZeneca's Crestor.
Vytorin's share of prescriptions also increased -- from 1.9 percent for the week ending Nov. 26 to 3 percent for the week ending Jan. 14.
During the week ending Jan. 14, Lipitor remained the drug of choice for patients taking cholesterol medication, capturing 46.7 percent of new starts. Vytorin captured 6.8 percent of these patients.
Vytorin has been aggressively promoted since its launch.
According to Verispan's promotional audits, over $60 million was spent on detailing, meeting and event support, journal advertising and direct-to-consumer promotion in the brand's first three months on the market.
Corbett Accel handles professional advertising, while DDB Worldwide heads up the DTC marketing effort.