Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Merck, SGP's "Enhance" Study No "Late Breaker" At ACC

The results of the controversial study called "Enhance" of the cholesterol drug Vytorin from Merck and Schering-Plough will not be presented as a prestigious "late breaker" at the upcoming annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

An ACC spokesperson tells CNBC the companies essentially blew it when they released the so-called topline data in January. There was increasing pressure on the companies from doctors and the news media to release the information and officials claim they publicly disclosed the results shortly after receiving them in early January, so they were kind of caught between a rock and a hard place.

"Late-breaker" is a designation given by medical and scientific organizations at their conferences for marquee, often headline-grabbing, important studies. But the groups try to strictly enforce their rules about the timing and the level of detail allowed in the disclosure of results ahead of their confabs so no one steals any thunder or diminishes the media bang.

While the study will not have late breaker status, it will still be presented by the researcher who led the clinical trial at the opening session on Sunday, March 30th. That means it'll still take place in the biggest hall at Chicago's McCormick Place. And the spokesperson says it will be followed by a panel discussion to fully flesh out the study results and their clinical practice implications. I expect it to be SRO.

This isn't a huge surprise. But many people in investment/analyst/pharma circles were waiting for official word on the late breaker thing.

In her daily update to interested clients, Credit Suisse pharma analyst Catherine Arnold reports that Vytorin/Zetia (Vytorin is made with Schering's Zetia and Merck's Zocor) market share has been "relatively stable" for the past couple of weeks.

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