One of the beauty’s of the American marketplace is this: If you can buy ad-space, you can sell your wares, even when those wares have been proved a sham. This week’s proof? Vytorin. Clinical trials of the combo-cholesterol drug, which were subject to a little data-magic last year, have come up way short in the cholesterol-lowering and plaque-dissolving departments for which it was sold. But aggressive marketing of the drug, which got the official snake-oil verdict by an expert panel of cardiologists at the American College of Cardiologists conference two weeks ago, steams ahead. This week, Merck and Schering-Plough, the drug companies that teamed up to bring us Vytorin, ran a double-sided full-page ad touting the drug in a number of top newspaper dailies in the country, including the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times.
Another beauty of the American marketplace is this: Bad news doesn’t go unnoticed. News of Vytorin’s dismal trial results triggered a stock price plummet and ensuing crisis at Schering-Plough, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported Sunday. In the aftermath of the ACC conference, Schering-Plough announced it would eliminate 5,000 jobs as part of a cost-cutting strategy, the development of which was apparently a Zen-like experience for CEO Fred Hassan, who told the Star-Ledger:
“It’s really very refreshing and energizing to see people just come together and in a very good way,” he said. “We had the whole team there working together.”
Hmmmm. That kumbiya-like description of how well the S-P management team worked together to plan cutbacks may not have been the best story to relay through New Jersey’s top news outlet. We’re pretty sure that the 5,000 Schering-Plough employees – mostly New Jerseyites – whose jobs are on the chopping block, not to mention the five million people who shelled out for Vytorin last year, are feeling anything but refreshed and energized today.