Congress Calls Out Merck and Schering-Plough

It's one thing for investors to get upset because a company's clinical trial is taking too long, but it's a whole other ballgame when Congress gets involved.

Yesterday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce demanded more information about why Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) and Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP  ) are taking so long to release results from their ENHANCE clinical trial.

The goal was to see if the duo's VYTORIN, a combination of their ZETIA drug and Merck's ZOCOR, was better at preventing heart attacks than ZOCOR alone. All the patients completed dosing in April of last year, but there's still no data to be seen.

Last month, the companies announced that releasing the data is taking so long because of different interpretations of the ultrasound images of the arteries. The trial aims to measure the amount of plaque in the arteries, which leads to heart attacks.

The companies haven't seen the data yet, so they're certainly not dragging their feet because they know the results. On the other hand, because the Food and Drug Administration has already approved VYTORIN and ZETIA, the companies are obviously in no rush to get the trial completed. Given the double-digit increases in sales of late, it's unlikely that a positive result would help sales much. But if the trial shows that ZETIA doesn't decrease the risk of heart attacks more than ZOCOR alone, patients would likely switch over to generic versions of ZOCOR or other statins such as Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE  ) Lipitor and AstraZeneca's (NYSE: AZN  ) Crestor.

While investors certainly don't want the CEOs to get letters from Congress, I doubt much will come from its investigation. The trial data will eventually come out, and investors should cross their fingers that the lower cholesterol levels ZETIA produces translates into less plaque in the arteries.

More Foolishness on trial delays:

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 552066, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/23/2016 2:42:58 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,145.71 -16.64 -0.09%
S&P 500 2,141.16 -0.18 -0.01%
NASD 5,257.40 15.57 0.30%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

10/21/2016 4:00 PM
MRK $61.20 Down -0.72 -1.16%
Merck and Co. CAPS Rating: ****
SGP.DL2 $28.15 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Schering-Plough Co… CAPS Rating: ****
PFE $32.18 Down -0.36 -1.11%
Pfizer CAPS Rating: ****
SNY $37.75 Down -0.32 -0.84%
Sanofi CAPS Rating: *****