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Study: Popular Cholesterol Meds Provide Little Benefit

The popular cholesterol medications Vytorin and Zetia offer few health benefits to patients and do little to treat heart disease -- such as thickening of the arteries -- according to a study published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). A NEJM editorial (also published Sunday) recommends that, until definitive proof of the health benefits of these drugs becomes available, "it seems prudent to encourage patients whose LDL cholesterol levels remain elevated despite treatment with an optimal dose of a statin to redouble their efforts at dietary control and regular exercise." The Associated Press reports that Vytorin and Zetia have accounted for more than $5 billion in sales, and that Congress has inititiated a pair of investigations into why the drugs' manufacturers waited almost two years to release results of the study.