Vytorin and cancer risk
Vytorin is a medication which helps lower cholesterol levels. It consists of two drugs, ezetimibe and simvastatin.
A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine has reported the results of a large study called the Simvastatin and Ezetimibe in Aortic Stenosis (SEAS) study which has been assessing whether Vytorin can lower the rate of heart attacks in patients with narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart.
The researchers reported that more patients receiving Vytorin in the study died of cancer than patients taking placebo, but there was no difference in the overall rates of death in these two groups of patients.
It is important to recognise that it is not yet known whether this finding means that there is an increased risk of cancer related to taking Vytorin or whether this was simply a statistical anomaly that is not clinically relevant.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is examining the results of the study to determine their significance and will review additional information as it becomes available.
In the meantime the advice of the TGA is that patients on Vytorin should continue to take their medication and if they are concerned they should speak to their prescribing doctor.