If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out? Will Rogers
Drug giant Merck has had a drug on the market called Tredaptive. It is a mixture of the harmless Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid) with another component called laropiprant. Why the mixture if niacin has worked so well for heart patients? I believe it was created for patentability, but Merck claims to have added laropiprant to prevent the niacin induced “unpleasant redness of the face.
That alone I find incomprehensible. Merck took on a study, hoping that Tredaptive could help millions of people. The results of the study were completed just in time for the annual meeting of The American College of Cardiology meeting a few months ago. The results were not good. As it turns out, Tredaptive worked about as well as a placebo even in patients that were selected specifically because they tolerated niacin without serious side effects. The one thing Tredaptive did quite well, however, was to cause side effects including excess bleeding in (vs. placebo) in .6% of tested patients, about 1.4% experienced infections, 1.8% got diabetes and 3.6% had diabetic complications. About twice as many (0.4% vs. 0.7%) noticed skin symptoms. It wasn’t looking good for Merck until the public relations stepped in to assist the drug giant.
The Forbes Magazine author who wrote the article that I read stated, the test results “looked bad for niacin.” The lead author of the study, Dr. Jane Armitage, according to the Forbes article, stated, “Niacin has been used for many years in the belief that it would help patients and prevent heart attacks and stroke, but we now know that its adverse side effects outweigh the benefits when used with current treatments.” Did you get that “when used with current treatments” part?
Niacin doesn’t hurt people, but when you combine with other ingredients, apparently it does. Why must the niacin bear the brunt of this poor result? Merck, I believe owes all physicians who wrote prescriptions for this proprietary blend of God (niacin) and man (laropiprant) as well as the patients who took, or take it, further research as to whether the combination caused the side effects or one certain ingredient caused them. Surely they would come clean and split the two ingredients and prove the natural form of niacin harmless.
The final sentence in this articles states, “But because the final trial never compared Merck’s new drug combination to niacin alone, figuring out which drug caused the side effect may be impossible.” Which “drug?” Refer to blog title above for full explanation