Schering-Plough And ENHANCE: What Did They Know And When?

In what I would describe as a pretty extraordinary filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Schering-Plough is putting in black and white the date and time that senior level executives were informed about the results of the controversial ENHANCE* study of the cholesterol drug Vytorin.

SGP and Merck are joint-venture partners on the pill which is a combination of Zocor and Zetia. Critics have alleged officials may have delayed releasing what many perceive as the negative results of the clinical trial.

You can see the filing for yourself here, but this is the lowdown:

SGP says Chairman and CEO Fred Hassan was told about the results on January 10th at 8 a.m. by Tom Koestler, the head of SGP's Research Institute. According to the filing, an executive VP was told at the exact same time, another exec veep learned about it half an hour later, and yet another EVP half an hour after that. Koestler was the first top-level guy to get the results on Jan. 7th at 2 p.m. The companies publicly released the results on January 14th at 8:05 a.m. ET according to the time stamp on the wire services we subscribe to at CNBC.

The filing also explains why SGP is reporting earnings much later than Merck this quarter. Recently I blogged that this is the first time in recent memory that the partners didn't come out on the same day.

The company says the later than usual date, Feb. 12th, is "to allow time to properly prepare consolidated financial results reflecting technical 'purchase accounting' adjustments for the November 2007 acquisition of Organon BioSciences N.V."

The filing also mentions that "the integration (with Organon) is progressing well."

*ENHANCE is the acronym for the study that compared Merck and Schering's cholesterol fighter Vytorin (a combo of Zocor and Zetia) to Zocor--which is now available as a generic--alone.

UPDATE: Interesting political/pharmaceutical factoid my producer, Ruth, just came across on the Associated Press wire. In a story about John McCain's health, it mentions that he's taking Vytorin.

Questions? Comments?