US lawmakers probing trial of Merck & Co.'s, Schering-Plough's cholesterol drugs

The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough requesting information about delays in the ENHANCE trial, which compared the combination cholesterol drug Vytorin to Zocor. The trial was completed in April 2006, but the findings have not yet been released.

In the letter, the committee stated that it is "concerned with the delay in releasing the results of the study, the timing of ENHANCE trial registration, and the apparent manipulation of trial data." The committee requested that officials at both companies talk to investigators and that the drugmakers provide information about the trial by December 25.

Last month, the companies said that on the recommendation of an independent panel, they were going to change the study's primary endpoint to speed up the reporting of the findings. However, Merck research head Peter Kim recently stated that the drugmakers have had further discussions on the matter, and have decided not to change the primary endpoint.

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